A sixth protester has died in Senegal as the West African nation faces another week of widespread violent protests.
As tensions ramp up, the country’s official internal mediator has warned Senegal is on the “verge of an apocalypse” unless the government makes a comprehensive effort to address the concerns of young people across the country.
Demonstrations erupted in the capital city of Dakar last week after the arrest of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko who is facing rape allegations and charges of public disorder.
Sonko and his supporters have claimed that the allegations are politically motivated. Sonko was expected to take on President Macky Sall in the 2024 presidential elections.
As protests spread from the capital and swell across the country, President Sall has so far ignored mounting pressure to speak out publicly on the protests. Members of his own government are now speaking out against his continued silence.
In a press conference on Friday, Alioune Badara Cissé, Senegal’s official ombudsman and mediator, warned that the situation in the country was spiralling out of control and called on the president to “pause and speak with our youth.”
“Senegalese people want to hear you,” Cisse said. “Why the devil wouldn’t you talk to them? Do it before it’s too late.”
In the meantime, the government has deployed the army onto the streets of Dakar as protesters target French-owned businesses in the hope of disrupting the country’s historical financial relationship with its colonisers. Widespread looting has also been a feature of the demonstrations.
On Monday, it was reported that a young man was shot outside of the headquarters of the French-owned telecommunications company Sonatel. He is believed to be the sixth demonstrator killed since the protests began.
Sonko has been placed under “judicial supervision” and is expected to appear in court later this week.