Protest again broke out in Dakar, the capital of Senegal after the arrest of prominent opposition figure and National Assembly deputy Ousmane Sonko.
Protests and associated clashes initially erupted in the Senegalese capital on Feb. 8 after authorities launched a criminal investigation into allegations that Sonko had committed sexual assault.
The situation reached boiling point on Feb. 11 after the National Assembly voted to strip the opposition leader of his parliamentary immunity; with further demonstrations taken place March 3-4 following the arrest of the opposition leader on charges of disrupting the public order.
Sonko’s supporters have asserted that the accusations are politically motivated and orchestrated by the administration of President Macky Sall to neutralize Sonko’s increasing popularity.
Sonko, who leads the PASTEF-Les Patriotes party and placed third in Senegal’s 2019 presidential election, is widely viewed as a rising star in the nation’s political arena.
With tensions elevated in the country and new demonstrations over the trials of Sonko supporters arrested during earlier protests.
The ECOWAS Commission on Saturday in a communique said “it is closely following the situation unfolding in Senegal and condemns the violence that occurred in several towns in the country which led to deaths, injuries and destruction of property.
It called on all parties to exercise restraint and remain calm.
It also called on the authorities to take the necessary measures to ease tensions and guarantee the freedom to demonstrate peacefully, in conformity with the laws in force.
Michael Olugbode in Abuja