Clashes and violent demonstrations have occurred in several areas of central Dakar following the arrest of opposition politician Ousmane Sonko, March 3. Protesters have clashed with security forces in the vicinity of Colobane and incidents have also been reported in areas around Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop, Place de la Nation, and Allees du Centenaire. Violent protests follow earlier clashes where security forces dispersed pro-Sonko activists and supporters who were marching in support of the politician. Several injuries were reported during the earlier incident.
Security services will likely maintain a significantly increased presence in the area in the coming hours, and further clashes between protesters and security forces are possible. Localized transport disruptions are likely in the vicinity of all associated gatherings.
Sonko's arrest follows a criminal investigation into allegations that the politician had sexually assaulted a local beauty parlor employee. New protests broke out Feb. 11 after the National Assembly voted to strip the opposition leader of his parliamentary immunity. Sonko's supporters assert that the accusations and the National Assembly's action are politically motivated and orchestrated by the administration of President Macky Sall to neutralize Sonko's increasing popularity. Sonko, who leads the PASTEF-Les Patriotes party and placed third in Senegal's 2019 presidential election, is widely viewed as a rising star in the nation's political arena.