DAKAR, 7 March 2021 – Four people have been confirmed killed in this week’s violent protests in Sengal, the worse street protests in the country for several years now.
The four were killed in the capital, Dakar, where at least 20 other people were injured.
The death toll is an update after Senegalese authorities initially admitted only to one person being shot dead.
Victims were shot dead by security forces after protests degenerated into riots with some individuals taking advantage to break in and loot shops in several towns of Senegal, notably Dakar.
Senegalese authorities are bracing for more of the same, if not worse, during the first three days of next week after an opposition coalition called Saturday for three days of protests starting on Monday.
The announcement by the Movement for the Defense of Democracy – whose member organizations include Senegal’s leading opposition party PASTEF – came at a news conference on Saturday in the capital, Dakar.
The movement urged Senegalese to massively descend on the streets beginning Monday.
At the height of the riots, authorities in Dakar interrupted access to the Internet, making it almost impossible for users to post on social media platforms – Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and others.
Two television stations – Sen TV and Walf TV – were put off the air by the National Audiovisual Regulatory Council (CNRA).
Officials in Dakar accused the television stations and social media users of promoting the violence in the streets, by giving it voice and audience on the air and online.
The riots were triggered by the arrest Thursday in Dakar of Senegal’s main opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko.
A member of parliament who placed third in Senegal’s last presidential elections, Sonko saw his immunity lifted last Friday to clear the way for him to face rape charges brought by an employee of a Dakar beauty salon.
Sonko has denied the accusations, alleging that the case is politically motivated.
The embattled MP has gone so far as to accuse Senegalese President Macky Sall of using the charges to prevent him from running in the next presidential election.
Some Senegalese opposition leaders were disqualified from running in the 2019 ballot for legal reasons.