Supporters of the main Senegalese opponent Ousmane Sonko, on tour in the west of the country, were dispersed on Sunday evening by the gendarmerie who accused them of "an illegal gathering", according to the party and images on social networks.
Ousmane Sonko, 49, candidate for the presidential election of 2024, announced Saturday a national tour with mainly "proximity visits" to relatives, religious leaders and officials of his party.
In Mbour, a town 80 km south of Dakar where the tour began on Sunday, the gendarmerie intervened to disperse a crowd that was following him, Mr Sonko accused, according to images broadcast by his party's Jotna TV.
During an altercation with a gendarmerie official, the latter asked him to avoid "a crowd" and "not to occupy the public highway", which Mr Sonko defended.
He accused the gendarmerie of "executing illegal orders", in images posted on social networks showing the deployment of police in the areas he was visiting around Mbour.
The gendarmerie did not make a statement. The prefect of Mbour, reached Sunday evening by AFP, did not react.
Mr. Sonko, third in the presidential election of 2019, holds a speech at once sovereignist, pan-Africanist and social, criticizing the elites and corruption. He also criticizes the economic and political power exercised by the former French colonial power and multinationals.
Since 2021, he has been under indictment for allegedly raping a female employee of a beauty salon where he was getting a massage. His indictment helped trigger several days of deadly rioting, looting and destruction. Mr Sonko cried out that he was being set up by the government, but he defended himself.
He declared his candidacy in the wake of the legislative elections of 31 July. The presidential camp lost the absolute majority in Parliament.
President Macky Sall, elected in 2012 for seven years and re-elected in 2019 for five years, remains silent on his intentions for the presidential election of 2024.