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What’s Happening In Senegal?

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Senegal is currently witnessing unrest after protests erupted on Thursday, June 1. The protests, according to Senegal’s public broadcaster RTS, broke out following the sentencing of major opposition leader Ousmane Sonko.

According to CNN, Ousmane Sonko was cleared of a rape charge but found guilty of corrupting young people. According to the country’s penal code, this means “immoral behaviour” towards a person younger than 21.

The unrest has led to clashes between people who are believed to be Sonko’s supporters and the country’s security forces. Arrests have been made, at least 16 people have died, according to CNN, and there’s been a shutdown of mobile internet access in some areas of the country. Young people and social media users resorted to virtual private networks (VPN) to bypass the internet curfew.

Sonko came third in Senegal’s 2019 presidential election, and according to widespread reports, he is currently considered President Macky Sall’s main opposition.

According to Al Jazeera, “Ousmane Sonko claims the charges against him were a bid by the government to torpedo his political career ahead of next year’s presidential election.”

The Senegalese government has alleged that the protests are geared towards “destabilising” the country.

In a tweet shared by Amnesty Senegal on the developments in the country, the human rights body said: “We condemn the restrictions on access to social networks and the cutting of the private TV signal Walf TV. These restrictions are arbitrary measures contrary to international law and cannot be justified by imperatives of security.”

They also called on authorities to investigate the deaths of protesters;

“The authorities must carry out credible and independent investigations into the deaths recorded in the context of the demonstrations in Dakar and Ziguinchor. Public force should only be used when necessary and in a proportionate manner.”

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