In Senegal, Macky Sall demands measures to “preserve public order”

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As Senegal has been rocked by unrest since March 16, the day the defamation trial of opponent Ousmane Sonko began, Senegal’s President Macky Sall on Wednesday demanded that the government take steps to “preserve public order”.

Senegalese President Macky Sall asked the government on Wednesday, March 22, for measures to “preserve public order”, after disturbances linked to a trial of opponent Ousmane Sonko which left at least one dead.

Macky Sall “has asked the government to take all appropriate measures to ensure the absolute security of property and people”, according to an official press release. He spoke of “the imperative to preserve democratic achievements and public order in Senegal”, a country which has the reputation of being a rare island of stability in a troubled region.

A man was killed Tuesday in Casamance (south) in clashes between supporters of Ousmane Sonko and the police, according to a local elected official and an administrative official.

>> Senegal: unrest in Dakar during the trial of opponent Ousmane Sonko

Since March 16, the day of the start of the trial of Ousmane Sonko, sued for defamation by the Minister of Tourism Mame Mbaye Niang, incidents have broken out in several cities. The hearing was adjourned to March 30.

Malaise due to a “toxic product”

Ousmane Sonko left the private clinic in Dakar on Tuesday where he had been hospitalized for five days, we learned from his party on Wednesday. He said he received treatment there after becoming unwell due to a “toxic product” which he says he was sprayed with during his forced transfer by the police to the Dakar court for his trial.

In addition, the police placed in custody on Wednesday evening the head of communication for Ousmane Sonko’s party, El Malick Ndiaye, for “disseminating false news likely to discredit institutions”, announced to the media. AFP a responsible for political training, Ousseynou Ly. He is accused of a publication on Facebook speaking of an “unknown substance” which would have been “sprayed” on Ousmane Sonko, said Ousseynou Ly.

Minister Niang is suing Ousmane Sonko for defamation, insults and forgery. He accuses him of having declared that he had been singled out by a report from a control institution for his management of a fund for the employment of young people in agriculture.

>> Senegal: what is blamed on Ousmane Sonko, leader of the opposition, and what does he risk ?

What is at stake goes far beyond the minister’s reputation. The texts in force provide for removal from the electoral lists, and therefore ineligibility, in certain cases of conviction. Ousmane Sonko therefore risks being declared ineligible for the 2024 presidential election. Macky Sall kept open the question of his candidacy for a third term in 2024, in an interview with the French magazine L’Express on Monday.

Ousmane Sonko and his supporters denounce the instrumentalization of justice by power to eliminate him politically. In March 2021, the impeachment of Ousmane Sonko in another case of alleged rape and his arrest had helped trigger the most serious riots in years in Senegal, which had left at least a dozen dead. The trial has not yet taken place.

With AFP

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