…By Roland Peterson for TDPel Media.
Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko has alleged that he is being unlawfully held by security forces and has urged the public to take to the streets.
Sonko, a critic of President Macky Sall’s government who finished third in the 2019 presidential election, was declared “unreachable” by his party after being forcibly taken to the capital, Dakar, by the police.
The situation has intensified as the verdict in a rape trial against Sonko, which could impact his eligibility to run in the next presidential election, is expected to be delivered soon.
Sonko’s Political Struggles:
Sonko, aged 48 and the president of the PASTEF-Patriots party, commands a significant following among Senegal’s youth population.
He faced arrest in 2021, resulting in clashes that claimed the lives of at least 12 people.
Recently, his “caravan of freedom” protest drew large crowds and led to clashes with security forces, resulting in one fatality.
Sonko documented the journey live on social media for the initial two days but went silent from Sunday onwards after being taken to Dakar by the police, who subsequently blocked access to his residence.
Illegal Detention Allegations and Call for Action:
On Tuesday, Sonko resurfaced on social media, declaring that he was being illegally held.
He questioned how a country claiming to be a democracy could justify confining a citizen without any legal basis, emphasizing his strong opposition to President Macky Sall’s regime.
Sonko called on the people to rise up together, asserting that power should remain in the hands of the people.
He further called for a national resistance movement to safeguard democracy and freedoms.
Tensions and Trial:
Tensions are escalating as Sonko’s supporters grow increasingly impassioned in anticipation of the trial’s outcome.
Clashes between young followers and the police have already occurred in various parts of Dakar.
The trial revolves around allegations of sexual assault and death threats made by a worker at a beauty salon in Dakar.
Sonko maintains that he visited the salon for a massage to alleviate chronic back pain and argues that the charges against him are politically motivated.
Additionally, Sonko’s bid for the presidency has been clouded by a six-month suspended sentence he received in March for defaming Tourism Minister Mame Mbaye Niangtou.
Political Context and Tensions:
Political tensions in Senegal have been exacerbated by President Macky Sall’s refusal to rule out running for a third term, which his opponents claim would violate the constitution.
Sall was initially elected in 2012 when the presidential term was seven years and was re-elected in 2019 when the term was reduced to five years.
These political dynamics have contributed to the current volatile situation in the country.
The detention of Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, as alleged by him, has intensified the political standoff between him and President Macky Sall’s government.
Sonko’s call for public protests, claiming illegal confinement, raises concerns about potential unrest.
As tensions continue to escalate ahead of the verdict in Sonko’s rape trial, the political landscape in Senegal remains highly charged and uncertain.