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Senegal: Internet restricted as Sonko faces new charges and detention

Ousmane Sonko(C), President of the opposition party Senegalese Patriots for Work, Ethics and Brotherhood (PASTEF)   -  
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The party of the embattled Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, PASTEF, has criticized the latest move by the government to open up new charges against him.

They termed the move as anti-democratic after the government on Monday charged and imprisoned Sonko on Monday for various crimes, including a call for insurrection which, according to the authorities, led to deaths.

Sonko's lawyers have claimed it's a political vendetta by the government of the outgoing President Macky Sall.

"We consider that the case is empty. We've put together a lot of statements to do this. But I have here statements by President Macky Sall, who made much more violent calls," said Youssoupha Camara, the lawyer for Ousmane Sonko.

The lawyers have also questioned the independence of the judiciary accusing some judges of being biased and siding with the executive to propagate punitive agenda against the opposition.

"We think it was a political order that was unfortunately carried out by a judge. The aim of this political order was to prevent President Ousmane Sonko from taking part in the 2024 elections. And unfortunately, today, we have a judiciary that is almost subservient to the executive, not even to the executive, but to a regime that, whenever it wants, looks for trouble with its political opponents and sends them to prison. And that's unfortunate for our Senegalese democracy," said Babacar Ndiaye, the lawyer for Ousmane Sonko.

Less than two hours after his indictment, Interior Minister Antoine Diome announced in a press release the dissolution of the opposition party, Pastef, justifying his decision by its "frequent" calls for "insurrectionary movements" which, according to him, resulted in numerous deaths in March 2021 and June 2023 and "acts of ransacking and looting of public and private property". 

Internet was also restricted on Monday by the government in a move intended to curb spread of information to deter an insurrection.

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