One dead as Senegal faces more violent protests over rape charge

DAKAR — One person died in a second day of violent protests in Senegal on Thursday, the government said, as supporters of the main opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, clashed with riot police over a rape accusation that Sonko denies.

At Cheikh Anta Diop University in central Dakar, protesters lobbed rocks at police in full protective gear who occasionally fired their guns in response during an hours-long standoff.

“The government strongly condemns the acts of violence, looting and destruction of property,” the authorities said in a statement.

The government later confirmed that one person had died in the clashes. The death is the first in recent protests in support of Sonko, who was detained on Wednesday over rape accusations made by an employee at a beauty salon.

The politician, who came third in the 2019 presidential election, faces questioning after he was stripped of his parliamentary immunity last week.

The authorities have called on the army to back up police, who could face further unrest on Friday during a planned demonstration in support of Sonko by the popular protest movement “Y En A Marre” (Enough is Enough).

Protests have erupted in other parts of the country including in Sonko’s native Casamance region in southern Senegal, which is where the one man was killed, a local official said on condition of anonymity.

Sonko, a 46-year-old former tax inspector, accuses President Macky Sall’s government of drumming up the rape charge to undermine his strongest rival. (Reporting by Cooper Inveen; Additional reporting by Diadie Ba; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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