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The Senegalese authorities have banned a demonstration against power planned for Wednesday in Dakar, at the risk of further increasing the anger of the opposition in a climate of growing pre-election tensions. “Real threats to public order” are notably invoked to justify this ban.
The climate of pre-election tensions is not weakening in Senegal. The authorities have banned a demonstration against power scheduled for Wednesday, June 29 in Dakar, at the risk of further increasing the anger of the opposition.
On June 17, a previous demonstration, also banned, had caused clashes. Three people died and more than 200 people were arrested, including two deputies, according to the opposition. One was given a six-month suspended prison sentence on Monday, the other was released, like the 82 other defendants in Dakar.
To justify this new ban, an order from the prefect of Dakar invokes “real threats to public order”, “real risks of infiltration by ill-intentioned individuals”, “serious threats of damage to public buildings” and “real risks of impeding the free movement of persons and goods”.
He also speaks of 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. This must open on July 10 in view of the legislative elections of July 31.
Tension is growing after the Constitutional Council invalidated a national list of candidates from the opposition coalition Yewwi Askan Wi. This invalidation eliminates the leader of the opposition, Ousmane Sonko, and a number of opponents of President Macky Sall from the race. The opposition denounces a stratagem of the presidency to dismiss its adversaries.
“End serious violations of the right to peaceful assembly”
Ousmane Sonko, third in the 2019 presidential election and declared candidate for that of 2024, and other leaders have threatened to prevent the holding of the elections if Yewwi Askan Wi does not participate.
The legislative elections aim to renew the 165 deputies of the National Assembly, largely dominated by the presidential coalition.
The opposition had gathered thousands of supporters in mid-June during a demonstration which had been authorized and took place in a festive atmosphere.
A concert of pots and horns at the call of Ousmane Sonko was also well attended a week ago. On the same day, eleven civil society organizations called on the UN “to put an end to serious violations of the right to peaceful assembly”.
The questioning of Ousmane Sonko by the courts in a case of alleged rape had contributed in March 2021 to several days of riots which had left at least a dozen dead.