Senegal’s Ousmane Sonko spent his first night in police custody after being arrested on Wednesday in Dakar on his way to court to be heard on rape charges.
The parliamentarian was allegedly disturbing public order by walking in a procession to the court and refusing to follow the route set by the authorities.
His arrest provoked some of the most serious clashes in the capital in years — with unrest reported in other cities in the country.
Protests in support of main opposition leader/former presidential candidate Ousmane Sonko, Dakar, Senegal, who was arrested on charges of disturbing the public order after his supporters clashed with police as he was heading to the court to face rape charges. #APphoto @Leo_Correa pic.twitter.com/BsgryEiAkk
— Leo Correa (@Leo_Correa) March 3, 2021
Youth groups and law enforcement officials exchanged stone-throwing and tear-gas fire in the capital on Wednesday for part of the day. The media and social networks reported the looting of shops.
Nekhole Diatala, a supporter of the detained politician, holds steadfast, “We are here to support our leader, President Ousmane Sonko, but above all to fight for democracy, for freedom, for equality, for the rule of law, forever, we have been fighting.”
Pape Moussa Seck, another supporter of Sonko, wants his chosen political leader to be released, “We are dedicated young people and we want this change, and all they have to do is free us, we need freedom, that’s it.”
The head of the Pastef-Les Patriotes party — who placed third in the 2019 presidential election, Ousmane Sonko is expected to be one of the main political opponents of the Senegalese government in the upcoming presidential vote scheduled for 2024.