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Senegal bars protest ahead of tense elections

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Authorities in the Senegalese capital Dakar have banned a demonstration announced for Wednesday at a time of mounting tensions ahead of legislative polls.

A barred protest on June 17 led to clashes that left three people dead and more than 200 arrested, according to opposition figures. Two MPs were arrested, one of whom was given a six-month suspended prison sentence on Monday.

A decree issued by the Dakar prefect stated there were “real risks” that the rally would be infiltrated by troublemakers and that public order and property could be endangered.

It also said the demonstration would violate laws banning “disguised” propaganda within 30 days of the official start of an election campaign.

Legislative elections will take place on July 31 in Senegal, a country that generally has a good reputation for stability. The official start is on July 10.

The vote is for the 165-seat National Assembly, where supporters of President Macky Sall hold a majority.

Leaders of an opposition coalition called Yewwi Askan Wi are furious after Senegal’s highest court has ditched a list of their candidates for technical reasons.

The move effectively blocked a leading opposition figure, Ousmane Sonko, who came third in the 2019 presidential election and has already said he will participate in the vote in 2024.

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


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