Senegal’s opposition leader calls for another mega protest on June 29
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Senegal’s main opposition leader on Monday called for a fresh demonstration to be held on June 29, despite the previous one being banned and the ensuing clashes leaving three dead.
Ousmane Sonko, who came third in the last presidential election, also called on citizens to bang pots and pans in protest on Wednesday.
“On the 29th, with or without authorization, we are going to organize our demonstration,” the PASTEF party leader said in a press conference.
“If (President) Macky Sall wants to prevent this affair, he should be ready to arrest us or terminate us,” he added.
On Friday, clashes in Dakar and the southern region of Casamance left three people dead, according to local media and the opposition.
Young people defied a ban on demonstrations that the opposition had planned after authorities disqualified its national list of candidates for upcoming legislative elections.
Police had banned the protests citing the risk of unrest.
Tensions have been growing since Senegal’s highest court on June 3 upheld a decision to disqualify the national list on a technicality.
Sonko and other opposition figures who had been on the list are now sidelined from the July 31 election.
The opposition has threatened to prevent the vote from taking place if the list is not reinstated, raising fears that tensions could spill over.
On Friday, police prevented Sonko from leaving his street to demonstrate, while four other opposition figures were arrested.
Some appeared in court on Monday, local media reported.
The opposition says some 200 arrests were made across the country during Friday’s clashes.
Sonko called for their release, and encouraged young people to demonstrate spontaneously in their neighbourhoods without waiting for June 29.
He also called on supporters to bang pots on their balconies or honk their car horns for ten minutes on Wednesday at 8:00 pm (2000 GMT).
“Let the whole of Senegal rumble and let Macky Sall understand that the Senegalese people do not agree with his dictatorial designs or his ill-fated plan for a third term,” Sonko said.
He and the opposition claim the president intends to run again in 2024.
Sall has remained vague on the subject.
Sonko himself plans to run for president in 2024.