Unrest in Ziguinchor, a town in southern Senegal, erupted just a day prior to the scheduled commencement of Sonko’s rape trial in the nation’s capital, Dakar. Sonko stands accused of assaulting a woman during her employment at a massage salon, which led to his charges.
If Sonko is found guilty, he could face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, along with being disqualified from running for president.
Authorities in the region reported that an armoured police vehicle accidentally struck and killed an officer while in reverse. The government expressed condolences to the officer’s family, referring to the incident as a “tragic accident.”
Clashes transpired near Sonko’s residence, where he has been staying and adamantly refusing to heed any summonses to appear in Dakar for the rape trial. Sonko had previously contested President Macky Sall in Senegal’s 2019 presidential election and was subsequently elected mayor of Ziguinchor last year.
Beginning on Sunday evening, Sonko’s supporters congregated outside his home, fearing that the police would attempt to arrest him and bring him to court. Social media platforms have circulated messages urging supporters to act as Sonko’s “shields” and safeguard their leader from detention.
Recently, Sonko received a six-month suspended prison sentence in a defamation case and subsequently declared that he would no longer respond to court summonses without assurances for his safety.
During a news conference in Paris on Monday (May 15th), Sonko’s legal team informed reporters that he had yet to receive a summons, but would agree to appear if certain conditions were met.
In response to the situation, Senegalese police have deployed additional officers in Ziguinchor and other parts of the country.
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