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Senegal: President gets involved in land dispute causing tensions in Dakar

Senegal: President gets involved in land dispute causing tensions in Dakar
Senegalese President Macky Sall during a press conference at the ...   -  
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Johanna Geron/AP


The Senegalese president Macky Sall intervened personally, according to his services, to try to settle this week a land dispute between a traditional community of Dakar and the State, source of violent clashes.

The Lebous' protest against a project to build a gendarmerie in the district of Ngor has hardened in recent days and has caused violent confrontations which culminated on Tuesday between part of the population and the gendarmes.

According to images released Wednesday by the presidency, Macky Sall met late Tuesday night with representatives of Ngor and Lebous. He decided to share "equally" the land between the gendarmerie and the population and announced the construction of a high school, she said.

Images circulating on social networks had previously shown groups of young people clashing with stones and incendiary devices against a large force of law enforcement officials responding with tear gas. Witnesses described a neighborhood cordoned off by gendarmes and made almost inaccessible.

Mamadou Ndiaye, president of the "Ngor Debout" movement, was quoted in the press as saying that two people died in the clashes, including a young girl, and many others were injured.

No human toll has been officially reported. The gendarmerie did not respond to AFP. The Ministry of the Interior reported Wednesday in a statement the discovery of the body of a teenager of about 15 years on the beach of Ngor but said she had "probably" been killed by the propeller of a boat.

The Lebous are a traditional fishing group living on the Dakar peninsula and on the west coast of Senegal. They have been opposing for weeks the erection of the gendarmerie post on a parcel of land of more than 6,000 square meters which they claim to own. They denounce the lack of infrastructure for the use of the population in a very popular neighborhood.

They regularly rise up against the monopolization of their ancestral lands in a rapidly expanding city subject to significant land and real estate pressure.

The government, for its part, claimed to have bought the plot from its owner.

The fever in Ngor coincided with, but was not linked to, tensions caused by the possible exclusion of opposition politician Ousmane Sonko from the presidential race in 2024. The threat of ineligibility weighing on him makes fear a violent reaction of his supporters.

On social networks Tuesday night, Mr. Sonko has erected the neighborhood as a symbol of resistance against an "arbitrary and deliberately violent regime. He called on the outlying neighborhoods to show solidarity.

Government spokesman Abdou Karim Fofana said he saw in these remarks confirmation that Mr. Sonko "is capable of walking on corpses to achieve his ends.

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