In Senegal, violent demonstrations supporting the opposition leader kill 1

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) – Days of violent protests in Senegal have killed at least one person, local reports say, as young people take to the country’s streets in support of the main opposition leader who was arrested on Wednesday .

One person was killed Thursday as police clashed with protesters in the town of Bignona, in the southern Casamance region, according to reports. More clashes were expected on Friday after the opposition called on the nation to take to the streets.

The protests began before opposition leader Ousmane Sonko appeared in court for rape. He was held on his way to the courthouse and arrested for disturbing public order after hundreds of his supporters clashed with police blocking unauthorized protests.

Since then, the demonstrations have multiplied. Several stores belonging to a large grocery chain, Auchan, were looted and torched, along with Total gas stations, in what appeared to be attacks on French interests. Protesters also attacked Rfm radio and the government newspaper Le Soleil.

In a statement Thursday evening, the government condemned the violence and said “the instigators, perpetrators and accomplices will be sought and prosecuted in accordance with the law.” The government warned “against the biased coverage of events by certain media, which could stir up hatred and violence. “

The unrest in the capital is the worst seen in years in a country known for its stability.

Sonko, 46, third in the 2019 election, was charged with rape last month by a beauty salon employee. He was summoned to appear in court for questioning on Wednesday after his parliamentary immunity was lifted last week.

Sonko has been a staunch opponent of President Macky Sall since 2012. Popular with young Senegalese, Sonko and his supporters said the charges were politically motivated and accuse Sall of conspiring to undermine Sonko ahead of the 2024 election.

Senegalese authorities on Thursday evening suspended two private television channels for 72 hours. The National Audiovisual Regulatory Council accused Sen TV and Walf TV of inciting public disorder for continuously broadcasting content that “explicitly or implicitly defended violence”.

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