Dakar, June 8 (EFE).- The president of Senegal, Macky Sall, has ordered “immediate judicial investigations” into violent protests that broke out last week sparked by the criminal conviction of a popular opposition leader.
Days of violent clashes erupted in Senegal late last week leaving at least 16 dead after opposition leader Ousmane Sonko was sentenced to two years in prison.
In a statement published late on Wednesday, the Senegalese government ordered “immediate judicial investigations” into the “unprecedented violence” that broke out last week.
During Wednesday’s council of ministers, Sall reiterated “his determination to protect the Nation, the State, the Republic, its values and its foundations.”
The president has “ordered the opening of immediate and systematic judicial investigations to clarify the responsibilities linked to these events,” a statement read.
The Senegalese leader also condemned “acts of looting of public and private assets and cyber attacks” that sowed “terror and paralyzed” the country.
In the statement, Sall stressed the “imperative need” to protect the African nation against “the attacks that have become recurrent and multifaceted aimed at paralyzing our economy, undermining the image of the reference brand of our country, Senegal, which remains, above all, a great democracy.”
Violent clashes erupted last Thursday and spilled into Friday and Saturday in most Dakar neighborhoods and Senegal’s main cities after Sonko, leader of the Patriots for Sengal party (PASTEF), was handed a two-year sentence on June 1 on charges of “corrupting” youth.
The sentence sparked the anger of young protesters who claim the verdict was a ploy to prevent Sonko from running in presidential elections slated for February 2024.
The Senegalese interior ministry confirmed the deaths of 16 people, although PASTEF said 19 had died.
Some 500 people were detained, according to the ministry.
Sonko has denounced the “instrumentalization of justice to eliminate candidates” by incumbent Sall, who has been in office since 2012.
Sonko, a charismatic leader, has been a vociferous critic of the government and has drawn many young supporters through his anti-French and pro-nationalist discourse. EFE