Senegalese opposition leader accused of rape and released on bail | Political news

The court releases Ousmane Sonko under judicial supervision pending trial for rape after his arrest sparked deadly protests.

Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko has been charged with rape and released on bail under judicial supervision, his lawyer said, after his arrest last week led to violent protests.

Sonko calls the rape allegation politically motivated, and his release on Monday could help ease growing tensions in one of West Africa’s most stable democracies. At least eight people died in clashes between security forces and protesters last week, according to rights group Amnesty International.

“He’s going home. He is free, ”declared Etienne Ndione, one of Sonko’s lawyers.

Nicolas Haque, from Dakar, from Al Jazeera, said the release of the opposition leader was greeted with joy by his supporters, hundreds of whom gathered outside Sonko’s house in the capital.

“The atmosphere is electric, the protests have turned into a celebration,” Haque said. “There is a feeling among these demonstrators that they were able to free Sonko themselves; that they have challenged the power of the presidency and that they see his release as their personal victory.

Previously, hundreds of people gathered in front of the Dakar court, waving flags and chanting “Free Sonko” before starting to march. His supporters have called for three days of nationwide protests this week.

Sonko, who finished third in the 2019 presidential election, was arrested after a beauty salon worker accused her of raping her. He denies the allegation and says it is an attempt by President Macky Sall to bring a political rival to his knees. The government denies this.

After Sonko’s arrest last week, protesters torched cars, looted shops and threw stones at police, highlighting long-standing grievances over living standards, unemployment, corruption and inequality .

Clashes eased on Saturday, but calls for more protests raised fears of escalating violence.

Much of Dakar on Monday was at a standstill in anticipation of further unrest, with army tanks patrolling the central streets.

Military vehicles topped with machine guns were stationed in areas of Dakar where recent clashes took place, and a dozen more were seen passing Independence Square in the heart of the city’s government quarter where the palace is located. presidential.

Schools in the capital were closed for a week.

Ignited by Sonko’s arrest, the protests have become the worst political turmoil the country has seen in years, prompting Senegal’s neighbors and the United Nations to voice concerns over rising tensions.

Political pressure has grown on Sall, whose tenure has been plagued with accusations that he is unfairly torpedoing his political rivals and fears he seeks to extend his reign beyond his two-term limit. has been outsourced.

“It’s not just about Sonko. We want Macky to resign, ”a man shouted as he walked into a crowd of people on Monday.

Many are wary of the charges against Sonko because two other high profile Sall rivals have already faced criminal charges that barred them from running for president in 2019.

“The feeling among many of these protesters is that what they are doing is not defending Sonko, but they are defending democracy and the history of stability in this country,” Haque said.

“They see in this legal case against Ousmane Sonko an attempt to eliminate a rival of President Macky Sall”, he added.

The president is due to address the nation later Monday.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *