Senegal authorities ban planned protest amid tensions

The Senegalese authorities have banned an anti-government demonstration announced for Wednesday, June 29, in Dakar, risking further anger from the opposition in a climate of growing pre-election tensions.

On June 17, a previous demonstration, which was banned, had caused clashes resulting in the death of three people, and more than 200 people were arrested, including two Members of Parliament (MPs), according to the opposition.

To justify this new ban, an order from the prefect of Dakar cited “real threats to public order”, “real risks of infiltration by ill-intentioned individuals”, “serious threats of attacks on public buildings” and “real risks of hindering the free movement of people and goods”.

He also spoke of a violation of the electoral code and its article L.61, which prohibits any “disguised” propaganda in the 30 days preceding the opening of the electoral campaign.

The campaign was due to open on July 10 for the legislative elections on July 31.

Tensions were rising after the Constitutional Council invalidated a national list of candidates from the opposition coalition, Yewwi Askan Wi. This invalidation eliminated from the race the leader of the opposition, Ousmane Sonko, and a number of opponents of President Macky Sall. The opposition denounced a ploy by the presidency to remove its opponents.

Sonko, who came third in the 2019 presidential electionand wasa declared candidate for the 2024 election, and other leaders have threatened to prevent the elections from taking place if Yewwi Askan Wi does not participate.

The legislative elections aimed to renew the 165 deputies of the National Assembly, which was largely dominated by the presidential coalition.

Senegal’s main opposition leader on Monday called for a fresh demonstration to be held on June 29, despite the previous one being banned and the ensuing clashes leaving three dead.

Ousmane Sonko, who came third in the last presidential election, also called on citizens to bang pots and pans in protest on Wednesday.

“On the 29th, with or without authorisation, we are going to organise our demonstration,” the PASTEF party leader said in a press conference.

“If (President) Macky Sall wants to prevent this affair, he should be ready to arrest us or terminate us,” he added. –

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