Nine people have been confirmed killed as clashes erupted in several cities of Senegal after a Dakar Appeals court sentenced main opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, to a two-year jail term on charges of “corrupting youths” in the country.
Interior Minister Antoine Diome, who confirmed the incident on national television on Friday, said shortly after the court pronouncement on Thursday, simultaneous violence broke out across the country between police and protesters with buses were set ablaze in the capital Dakar.
“We have noted with regret violence that has led to the destruction of public and private property and, unfortunately, nine deaths in Dakar and Ziguinchor,” Diome said.
The Minister added that disturbances were also reported elsewhere including the city of Ziguinchor, where Sonko has been mayor since 2022.
Local media also reported that the conviction for “corrupting youth” may disqualify Sonko who is President Macky Sall’s fiercest opponent from contesting next year’s presidential election.
“The case has deeply divided Senegal, sparking sporadic but deadly violence that has battered the country’s image of stability,” an online media reported on Friday.
Sonko, a former civil servant who rose to prominence in the country’s presidential elections in 2019 when he came third after a campaign that took aim at Sall and the country’s ruling elite, has been a subject of various attacks by the government.
The 48-year-old Sonko was initially arrested in 2021 on rape charges which sparked several days of clashes that left at least 12 people dead.
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