Senegal bans protests ahead of tense elections

Authorities in Dakar, the Senegalese capital, have banned a protest announced for Wednesday at a time of growing tension ahead of legislative elections.

A banned demonstration on June 17 led to clashes in which three people died and more than 200 were arrested, according to opposition figures. Two deputies were arrested, one of whom was given a six-month suspended prison sentence on Monday.

An order from the prefect of Dakar said there were “real risks” that the gathering would be infiltrated by troublemakers and that public order and property would be threatened.

He also said the protest would violate laws banning “covert” propaganda within 30 days of the official start of an election campaign.

Legislative elections in Senegal, a country that generally has a good reputation for stability, are due to take place on July 31 and their official start is July 10.

The poll is for the 165-seat National Assembly, where supporters of President Macky Sall hold the majority.

Leaders of an opposition coalition called Yewwi Askan Wi are furious after Senegal’s top court rejected a list of their candidates on technical grounds.

The move effectively banned a leading opposition figure, Ousmane Sonko, who came third in the 2019 presidential elections and has already said he will run in the 2024 ballot.

The country was rocked by several days of riots in March last year, killing a dozen people, after Sonko was accused of rape.


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