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Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko arrested

Opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, addresses his supporters during a meeting in Ziguinchor on May 24, 2023.   -  
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Leading Senegalese opposition politician Ousmane Sonko was arrested on Friday, members of his party and a senior security official told AFP, although no precise reasons were given.

"Ousmane Sonko was arrested. There were armed police outside his house," said Ousseynou Ly, a spokesman for Sonko's PASTEF party.

Djibril Gueye Ndiaye, the firebrand politician's head of protocol, said the gendarmes (police) came and "took" him.

A senior security official confirmed to AFP that Sonko had been arrested but did not specify the reasons.

The reported arrest happened in late afternoon on Friday, a national holiday in Senegal.

In a message posted on Twitter, which is being rebranded as X, Juan Branco, the French lawyer representing Sonko, said the politician had been locked up in a courthouse basement.

On Friday evening, several police vehicles including two anti-riot trucks were parked outside the main courthouse in Dakar, AFP journalists reported.

People were gathering outside Sonko's home in the capital, they said.

Sonko, a presidential challenger to the incumbent head of state Macky Sall, was sentenced in absentia in June to two years in prison for morally corrupting a young woman, a conviction that renders him ineligible to stand in next year's election.

The case sparked sporadic unrest that stretched over two years.

They culminated in fatal clashes at the time of his conviction that left 16 dead according to the government, 24 according to Amnesty International, and 30 according to Sonko's party.

On July 24, a security detail that had confined Sonko to his Dakar home was lifted. It had been in place since May 28.

Earlier on Friday afternoon, Sonko had said on social media that security forces stationed outside his home had been filming him.

He said he had taken one of the phones and demanded the images be deleted -- a request which was denied.

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