The United Nations and African Union have referred to as for calm after the sentencing of opposition politician Ousmane Sonko sparked a few of the deadliest violence lately.
Authorities have deployed the military on the streets of the capital, Dakar, and different cities because the demise toll rose to 10. 9 individuals had been killed on Thursday after Sonko was sentenced to 2 years in jail on expenses of corrupting youth, which can bar him from working within the 2024 presidential elections.
One other particular person died in new clashes on Friday within the restive southern area of Casamance when demonstrators attacked police barracks, a authorities spokesman informed TFM tv.
UN Secretary-Basic Antonio Guterres condemned the violence and “urged all these concerned to … train restraint”, a spokesman mentioned.
The AU mentioned its fee president, Moussa Faki Mahamat, strongly condemned the violence and urged leaders to keep away from acts, which “tarnish the face of Senegalese democracy, of which Africa has all the time been proud”.
The Financial Group of West African States (ECOWAS) referred to as on all events to “defend the nation’s laudable popularity as a bastion of peace and stability”.
The European Union and Senegal’s former colonial energy France additionally expressed concern over the violence.
Senegal authorities spokesman Abdou Karim Fofana mentioned the violence was not fuelled by “political calls for” however “acts of vandalism and banditry”.
“These are tough occasions for the Senegal nation that we are going to overcome,” he informed TFM.
Social media restricted
A number of social media and messaging platforms akin to Fb, WhatsApp and Twitter have been restricted to restrict on-line communications, with the authorities saying it had restricted entry with the intention to cease “the dissemination of hateful and subversive messages”.
Nevertheless, rights group Amnesty Worldwide has condemned the restrictions, describing them as an assault on freedom of expression.
“We condemn the restrictions on entry to social media by the Senegalese authorities within the face of violent protests,” Samira Daoud, Amnesty Worldwide’s regional director for West and Central Africa, mentioned in a press release.
“These restrictions on the proper to freedom of expression and knowledge represent arbitrary measures opposite to worldwide legislation, and can’t be justified by safety causes,” she added.
The NGO Reporters With out Borders additionally referred to as on authorities to completely restore web entry.
“Sociopolitical violence should not be used as a pretext to limit the proper to tell,” it mentioned.
Christopher Fomunyoh, from the Nationwide Democratic Institute for Worldwide Affairs, mentioned there was clear political motivation within the authorized instances in opposition to Sonko.
“The Senegalese individuals have a tradition of dialogue and attachment to their freedoms, and to now see politically motivated demonstrations which have induced the [loss of] lives is de facto unacceptable and unprecedented,” he informed Al Jazeera.
“On the one hand, the federal government has now deployed the Senegalese army into the streets – one thing that can be very unprecedented – and however, Sonko and his supporters are very decided to make use of the streets to make their voices heard,” he continued.
“My hope is that the Senegalese spiritual leaders and civil society can step in and attempt to mediate between the 2 sides that finally should make concessions and create an enabling surroundings for significant, inclusive and credible presidential elections to happen in February 2024.”
Sonko was charged with rape and making demise threats in opposition to an worker of a magnificence salon in Dakar in 2021.
Nevertheless, the courtroom acquitted him on these expenses and convicted him for “debauching” an individual underneath the age of 21, with out clarifying the immoral acts he’s alleged to have dedicated.
Underneath the electoral code, the decision would seem to render him ineligible for subsequent yr’s election.
Sonko has maintained his innocence and claims the president is attempting to border him to maintain him out of subsequent yr’s election – a cost the federal government denies.
The case has deeply divided Senegal, which is often a bastion of stability in West Africa.
Sonko, who was tried in absentia, has but to be taken into custody for his jail time period, which is more likely to trigger additional tensions.
Sonko is presumed to stay in his Dakar house, the place he has been blocked in by safety forces because the weekend. He alleges he’s being “illegally held”.