One person was killed on Thursday in clashes between Senegal’s police and supporters of arrested opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, who is due to be heard on Friday by a judge on rape charges, reported Africa News.
“The government strongly condemns the acts of violence, looting, and destruction of property,” the Senegalese authorities said in a statement.
The government confirmed that one person had died in the clashes. The death is the first in recent protests in support of Sonko, who was detained on Wednesday over rape accusations by an employee at a beauty salon.
He was summoned by a judge to appear in court for questioning on Wednesday after his Parliamentary immunity was lifted last week.
The leader of Senegal’s opposition Pastef party and former presidential candidate, Sonko is considered a key potential challenger for President Macky Sall since 2012. He has denied the charges and accused the president of conspiring to remove him ahead of the 2024 elections. The 46-year-old challenged President Sall in the 2019 vote, eventually finishing third in the race that delivered the incumbent a second term.
Sonko was to be transferred to a Dakar courthouse on Thursday evening where his case will be heard on Friday.
“Ousmane Sonko is now the subject of a warrant. He will be taken to the investigating magistrate tomorrow, willingly or by force,” Abdoulaye Tall, one of his attorneys, said.
On Thursday, Senegalese authorities also suspended the broadcast signal of two private television stations for 72 hours, accusing the channels of broadcasting images of unrest triggered by Sonko’s arrest in a loop. The National Audiovisual Regulatory Council’s (CNRA) decision affects Sen TV and Walf TV channels.
In Senegal, Presidents are limited to two consecutive terms, but Sall launched a constitutional review in 2016, raising suspicions he intends to run again. Other presidents in West Africa such as Guinea’s Alpha Conde and Ivory Coast’s Alassane Ouattara have used constitutional changes to win third terms.