The authorities said on Tuesday that three individuals had died in skirmishes between Senegalese police and followers of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko. The interior ministry reported that two young people were discovered dead overnight in the southern city of Ziguinchor and the country’s capital, Dakar, where a policeman was killed on Monday after being unintentionally crushed by an armoured anti-riot vehicle.
Around 20 vehicles at a national bus company depot in Dakar were set on fire, and two Auchan stores, which have regularly been damaged during unrest, were also reportedly attacked, according to the local news. Sonko, who is on trial for the alleged rape of a worker at a beauty salon where he went for a massage, was set to appear in court the next day when the violence broke out.
On Monday, people in Ziguinchor, where Sonko is mayor, threw stones at police, who retaliated by using tear gas. To prevent the police from taking him on Tuesday, they blocked up the streets leading to his house with steel bars, some of them holding rocks. Sonko’s trial, which had begun in the meantime in Dakar, was abruptly postponed until May 23 due to his absence.
Both Sonko’s co-accused, Adji Sarr, a young woman in her twenties, and Ndeye Khady Ndiaye, the owner of the massage parlour where the alleged rape occurred, were present. The PASTEF-Patriots party’s leader, Sonko, finished third in the 2019 presidential election. He claims that the legal actions taken against him are part of a scheme to prevent him from running in the 2024 election.