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Senegal: Opposition group calls for "peaceful" protest on Saturday

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JOHN WESSELS/AFP or licensors -

Senegal

A Senegalese opposition group on Tuesday called for "peaceful" demonstrations in Dakar and across the country on Saturday to demand the release of prisoners it describes as "political".

In a statement read to the press, the M2D also called for a day of national mourning on Friday, in tribute to the people killed in the protests that erupted last week after opposition leader Ousmane Sonko was arrested.

Usually considered a beacon of stability in a volatile region, Senegal has been rocked by deadly clashes which began after Sonko was arrested last Wednesday.

The opposition group also called on the Senegalese to dress in white on Friday and hang white fabrics on the front of their house or their car.

The M2D group, which includes Sonko's Pastef party, had earlier suspended calls for massive protests after a judge released Sonko on bail.

Sonko has been charged with rape, which he denies and says is politically motivated.

Sonko came third in 2019's presidential election and is considered a contender to replace President Macky Sall in 2024.

But his political future was thrown into doubt last month after a beauty salon employee accused him of raping her.

Sonko was arrested last week on charges of public disorder after scuffles between his supporters and security forces broke out while he was on his way to a court appearance related to the rape charge.

To Senegal's political opposition, the case fits a perceived pattern of prosecutions of government opponents.

After his release on Monday, 46-year-old Sonko said "the revolution has already started and nobody can stop it."

He also called for larger, but peaceful, anti-government protests.

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