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Clashes in Senegal as opposition demo banned

Protesters and police clashed in Dakar on Friday, after an opposition demonstration was banned by the authorities. Police officers blocked the area around the house of Ousmane Sonko, one of the leaders of the country's opposition, not allowing him to leave even to go to the mosque for the Friday prayers. Supporters of Sonko and others then demonstrated, blocking streets and setting tyres alight, while police responded by shooting tear gas. The demonstration called by the opposition was to protest the ban of a list of candidates from the coalition Yewwi Askan Wi - including Sonko - from running for the legislative elections next month. The opposition call it a maneuver by President Macky Sall to block his main opposition rivals who could run for the presidency in 2024. Last year protests erupted across Senegal after Sonko was accused of rape. Sonko's supporters maintain the charges were brought to derail his future political ambitions after he finished third in the last election, accusing the government of subjecting opposition figures to lengthy detentions. Many of the protesters directed their anger at Sall, who has been accused by critics of interfering in judicial cases to benefit himself politically. He has denied the allegation. Senegal has long been considered a bastion of democracy in Africa and a regional leader on diplomacy issues in West Africa. When Sall was first elected in 2012, he defeated then-President Abdoulaye Wade, who had sparked big demonstrations by seeking a third term in office. Since Sall's re-election in 2019, though, he has faced growing criticism, particularly from those who fear that he too may seek to run for president again.

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