Senegal: many tensions around the "caravan of freedom" of the opponent Ousmane Sonko

In Senegal, the so-called "freedom caravan" of the opponent Ousmane Sonko left Ziguinchor, the city of which he is the mayor in the extreme south of the country. It continues its journey towards Dakar. This Saturday, she arrived in Velingara after several hours of scuffles.

A man waves a Senegalese flag during a meeting of Ousmane Sonko in Ziguinchor, May 24, 2023. AFP - MUHAMADOU BITTAYE

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After spending the night in Kolda, the caravan was forced to stop for two hours because of clashes that broke out between the police and supporters of Ousmane Sonko at the entrance to the Velingara region, 570 km from Dakar, reportsour correspondent, Tiémoko Diarra. Ousmane Sonko's supporters did not take off in the face of the security forces who blocked all roads. Since the convoy left Kolda around noon, it has been followed by about twenty pick-up trucks and large armored vehicles of the gendarmerie.

>> READ ALSO: Senegal: the convoy of the opponent Ousmane Sonko on the way to Dakar

A dead man in Kolda

And like on Friday, many Senegalese came out to encourage the politician on the road, and scuffles broke out. Tear gas on the side of the police against stone throwing on the side of the demonstrators. "We are in a country that is held in suspense by a system that does not suit us. Ousmane Sonko came today to alert the youth. The young people understood. This caravan comes at its time because young people need to know that we must change eras. This caravan went through stages, during the whole journey the tear gas was launched by the police for no reason. All the politicians in Senegal have all toured the whole country. We have never seen a politician who has been gassed. Today, it is because Ousmane Sonko is the most presidentiable candidate, "says the coordinator of the Pastef of Ziguinchor, Edouard Diadta.

According to a statement from the Kolda public prosecutor, a 37-year-old man was killed on Friday on the sidelines of clashes in the city. The document explains that he died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen but did not establish the origin of the shooting. An autopsy and ballistic expertise are awaited, and an investigation is opened.

The convoy must then take the road to Tambacounda. A journey that promises to be already tense. Several army vehicles follow the procession. Ousmane Sonko plans to go to Dakar where the deliberations in his trial for rape will be delivered Thursday. He says he is the victim of a political conspiracy and says he wants to march on the Senegalese capital. The Ministry of the Interior, for its part, calls for calm. In a statement, he recalled that the procession is subject to the obligation of authorization and that the authorities will take "all necessary measures to preserve public order".

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