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Update on Senegal

Since President Macky Sall’s refusal to rule out rerunning for a third term in office, Thousands of protesters has taken to the streets of the Senegalese capital Dakar since Friday 12 May.

Many youths pledged their support for opposition politician Ousmane Sonko, a 48-year-old former tax inspector, who was initially charged with raping a woman who worked at a massage parlor and making death threats against her but was on Thursday convicted of a lesser charge of morally “corrupting” the youth was sentenced to two years in prison.

Sonko who is popular with the country’s youth claims the charges against him was a political move by the government to torpedo his political career ahead of the presidential election next year. His supporters maintain his legal troubles are part of a government effort to derail his candidacy in the 2024 presidential election.

OusmaneSonko is considered President Macky Sall’s main competition and has urged Sall to state publicly that he won’t seek a third term in office.

Clashes between Sonko’s supporters and police broke out after the ruling, leading to more than 15 deaths according to government figures.

Right groups have condemn the government crackdown which included arbitrary arrests and restricted access to social networks such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, to stop “the dissemination of hateful and subversive messages.”

One frustrated user, Cheikh Diouf, stated, “It’s a huge problem for us, because we can’t get real-time information about where demonstrations are taking place, and our safety is at stake”

A statement from the government on Sunday said there was deadly rioting in which “hateful and subversive” messages have been posted online, hence, the need to cut internet services. This includes all data on mobile internet devices in certain areas and at certain times, the statement said.

Many people were able to bypass the outage with the use of virtual private networks (VPN) that hide the location of the user.

Residents are blaming the government for the violence and the loss of lives and scared for the possible consequences of his arrest.

“I am really scared because we don’t know how this will all end, If they want peace; they won’t go and fetch Sonko.” said 46-year-old Fatou Ba.

Another Dalifort resident, Matar Thione, 32, said he felt unsafe in his own country,“If the protests continue, life is going to get even harder,”



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