UN calls for de-escalation after violent riots in Dakar

Violent protests are currently taking place in Senegal, such as here in Dakar on March 5, 2021. – Leo Correa / AP / SIPA

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres “is very concerned about the recent violence seen in Dakar and elsewhere in Senegal,” his spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said on Friday. The country was this Friday the scene of urban guerrilla scenes opposing the police to hundreds of young people, two days after the arrest of the opponent Ousmane Sonko.

Antonio Guterres “calls on all parties in Senegal to avoid an escalation of the situation,” added the spokesperson. “The demonstrations must remain peaceful and the security and police forces must act at all times in accordance with international human rights”, namely “allow these demonstrators to express their opinion and will”, also affirmed Stéphane Dujarri.

At least four dead

The arrest of Ousmane Sonko, third in the 2019 presidential election and expected to be one of the main competitors of that of 2024, has since Wednesday triggered looting and looting of stores, in particular under the French banner, in the capital and various cities. of the country, yet renowned as an island of stability in West Africa.

This arrest not only angered his supporters, but also, say many Senegalese, brought to its height the exasperation accumulated in this poor country in the face of the harshness of life for at least a year and the Covid pandemic. 19.

A large police force was set up in the Plateau district, the nerve center of power where traffic was almost zero. The protests have killed at least four people in recent days, the government said on Friday, promising to implement “all necessary means to restore order”. Live on television the Minister of the Interior, Antoine Félix Abdoulaye Diome, accused Ousmane Sonko of having “launched calls for violence” and “insurrection”. The UN representative in West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, appealed to him for “calm and restraint”.

Rape charges

On Thursday evening, demonstrators attacked the premises of the daily the sun and RFM radio, considered close to power. French schools in the country have closed, as has the Air France agency. Ousmane Sonko’s custody is due to end on Sunday. He will be presented to the judge again on Monday, according to his advice.

Ousmane Sonko was officially arrested for disturbing public order, while marching to court where he was summoned to answer charges of rape in a massage parlor. He was presented to the judge on Friday in the one for alleged rape and came out without being charged, but with a new appointment on Monday, according to his lawyers. He was returned to police custody in the proceedings for disturbing public order. Ousmane Sonko is the subject of an “attempted liquidation for the purpose of eliminating a political opponent,” said his lawyer Abdoulaye Tall.

A personality with an anti-system profile, the deputy shouts at the plot hatched by President Macky Sall to remove him from the next presidential election. The head of state denied at the end of February, but has remained silent on the affair ever since.

Social networks disrupted

As of Thursday evening, the authorities announced to suspend the signal of two private televisions guilty according to them to have diffused “in loop” of the images of violence. Social media reported disruption and the Netblocks specialist observatory confirmed restrictions on messaging apps, affecting photo and video sharing on Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and Telegram.

“The Senegalese authorities must immediately stop the arbitrary arrests of opponents and activists, respect the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, and shed light on the presence of men armed with clubs alongside the security forces Amnesty International said.

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