It was during a nationwide address triggered by violent protests following the arrest of opposition leader Ousamane Sonko.
Senegal’s President, Macky Sall has called for an end to street protests that erupted following the detention of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko. In an address to the nation on Monday, 8, 2021 President Sall offered condolences to the families of those who lost their lives during the protests, which he said caused unprecedented material and human losses, noting that multiple public buildings were attacked and many businesses were looted.
While stressing that no excuse could justify the ongoing violence, the President called on the population to be calm and express their feelings in a non-violent manner. He said after consulting the different segments of the society including religious groups, NGOs and employee unions, it was agreed that the case regarding the head of the opposition political party, Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics and Fraternity (PASTEF), Ousaman Sonko should be left to the judiciary. He further commended the Defense and Security forces saying, “In the face of such incredible violence, where children and women were put, in an organized manner, on the front line in the scenes of breakage, our Defense and Security Forces demonstrated professionalism and restraint without which the death toll would have been heavier.”
Mr Ousaman Sonko whose lawmaker status was stripped is accused of rape and making death threats. On March 3, while on his way to a court in Dakar with an accompanying convoy, he was intercepted by the police and later detained for disturbing the public order, which triggered violence between law enforcement officers and his supporters. The opposition parties and NGOs called for three days of protests starting from March 8. At least five people lost their lives due to the violence, and many business places looted and torched.
On Monday after his release on bail, Mr. Sonko said at a news conference that the street protests would continue and state authorities must pay compensation to the families of those killed during the protests and the assailants brought to justice. He also called for the release of political prisoners and detained individuals.