Violence in Senegal: political camps blame each other

Fifteen killed on Thursday and Friday and about 500 arrested, in Dakar and Ziguinchor in the south of the country. This is the latest official assessment of the Ministry of the Interior of the violence that broke out in the wake of the sentencing of the opponent Ousmane Sonko to two years in prison for "corruption of youth".

Riot police check bags on June 3, 2023 in Dakar. REUTERS - ZOHRA BENSEMRA

Text by: RFI Follow


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With our correspondent in Dakar, Charlotte Idrac


Acts of vandalism, which have nothing to do with political demonstrations ", it is the government's position which insists on the looting and looting of recent days. Tourism Minister Mame Mbaye Niang had sued Ousmane Sonko in another procedure for "defamation". In a very offensive statement at the headquarters of the presidential party, he denounced the presence of "foreigners" behind the demonstrators.

« We will not give in to these groups or to these foreigners who have come from elsewhere to destabilize our country. The Senegalese, especially the youth of this country, will take responsibility to confront these invaders, to face these cowardly political leaders who have created situations and who have detached. We will organize ourselves neighborhood by neighborhood and we will cope. »

"Don't mess up this country"

The same goes for the Minister of the Interior who sees "occult forces" I quote would be present among the demonstrators. However, he does not specify who it is precisely: "Our country has been attacked by occult forces as I indicated in 2021. At the time, this drew criticism. The events of the last few days seem to have opened the eyes of the most skeptical. There has been a clear desire to affect the normal functioning of our economic activity. The choice of targets is not fortuitous: we have noted that facilities vital to the functioning of the country have been attacked or attempted attacks.


Another reaction was that of the mayor of Dakar, Barthelemy Dias. A figure in the opposition coalition Yewwi Askan Wi, he had recently distanced himself from Ousmane Sonko. Regarding the conviction of the leader of the Pastef party, he denounces a "travesty of justice", and directly challenges President Macky Sall:

« Mr President of the Republic, you have the key today to the way out of the crisis in this country. I would ask you, President Macky Sall, to evacuate this question concerning your alleged desire to run for a third term. I invite you to assume your responsibilities and address the Senegalese people. You do not have the right to eliminate political opponents. Let us not screw up this country. »

Ousmane Sonko has not spoken publicly since his conviction.

In Ziguinchor, demonstrations continue

The city of Ziguinchor is one of the epicenters of these riots with its share of loss of life, five in total, according to the official toll, and enormous damage. Between scenes of looting and acts of civil disobedience, the demonstrators still did not take off in the main city in the south of the country of which Ousmane Sonko is the mayor. On Saturday, the third day, young people continued to protest even though the protests were not on the same scale as the first two days.

We want the complete freedom of Mr. Ousmane Sonko; We also want justice because there is too much injustice.

Ziguinchor, between calls for calm and demand for justice

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  • Senegal