Senegal bans new demonstration ahead of tense polls

Authorities in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, banned the demonstration, announced on Wednesday, at a time of mounting tension ahead of legislative elections.

The blocked June 17 protest led to clashes that left three people dead and more than 200 arrested, according to the opposition.

Two MPs were arrested, one of whom was given a six-month suspended sentence on Monday.

The decree, issued by the prefect of Dakar, said there were “real risks” that troublemakers could infiltrate the rally and that public order and property could be endangered.

It also says that the demonstration would violate laws prohibiting “disguised” propaganda for 30 days after the official start of the election campaign.

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

The vote is for the 165-seat National Assembly, where President Macki Sall’s supporters have a majority.

Leaders of an opposition coalition called Yuvi Askan Wie are outraged that Senegal’s Supreme Court rejected their list of candidates on technical grounds.

The move effectively barred leading opposition figure Usman Sonko, who came third in the 2019 presidential election and has already said he will run on the 2024 ballot.

The country was rocked by several days of unrest last March, which claimed about a dozen lives after Sonko was accused of rape.