Demonstrators block roads during a demonstration to protest after Senegal's opposition leader Ousmane Sonko was taken into custody. Photo: Cherkaoui Sylvain/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images ​
Demonstrators block roads during a demonstration to protest after Senegal's opposition leader Ousmane Sonko was taken into custody. Photo: Cherkaoui Sylvain/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images 

Photos: The Violent Protests That Have Put Senegal on the Verge of ‘Apocalypse’

The arrest of Senegal’s opposition leader on a charge of rape has seen demonstrations erupt, and put the country on the brink of disaster.
Dipo Faloyin
London, GB
March 8, 2021, 1:15pm

A sixth protester has died in Senegal as the West African nation faces another week of widespread violent protests.

A young boy reacts as he collects food from a looted Auchan supermarket in the up-market area of Almadies in Dakar on March 6, 2021

A young boy reacts as he collects food from a looted Auchan supermarket in the up-market area of Almadies in Dakar on March 6, 2021. Photo: JOHN WESSELS/AFP via Getty Images

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.

A shop damaged by protesters during demonstrations after Senegal's opposition leader Ousmane Sonko was taken into custody on March 06, 2021. Photo: Cherkaoui Sylvain/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A shop damaged by protesters during demonstrations after Senegal's opposition leader Ousmane Sonko was taken into custody on March 06, 2021. Photo: Cherkaoui Sylvain/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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.

A woman carrying her baby on the back, collects food from a looted supermarket in Dakar on March 6, 2021. Photo: JOHN WESSELS/AFP via Getty Images

A woman carrying her baby on the back, collects food from a looted supermarket in Dakar on March 6, 2021. Photo: JOHN WESSELS/AFP via Getty Images

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.

Photo: John Wessels / AFP via Getty

Photo: John Wessels / AFP via Getty

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.

A young boy holds grocery bags as he walks away from a burnt down and looted Auchan supermarket in Dakar on March 6, 2021. Photo: JOHN WESSELS/AFP via Getty Images.

A young boy holds grocery bags as he walks away from a looted Auchan supermarket in Dakar on March 6, 2021. Photo: JOHN WESSELS/AFP via Getty Images.

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.”

Demonstrators burn tyres and throw rocks towards security forces during a demonstration to proteston March 05, 2021 in Dakar, Senegal. Photo: Cherkaoui Sylvain/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Demonstrators burn tyres and throw rocks towards security forces during a demonstration to proteston March 05, 2021 in Dakar, Senegal. Photo: Cherkaoui Sylvain/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

“Senegalese people want to hear you,” Cisse said. “Why the devil wouldn’t you talk to them? Do it before it’s too late.”

A man takes out cable from a burned car left after protesters reached the central business district, Plateau, in Dakar. Photo: Cherkaoui Sylvain/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A man takes out cable from a burned car left after protesters reached the central business district, Plateau, in Dakar. Photo: Cherkaoui Sylvain/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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.

A Senegalese Gendarme patrols and clears the streets of Dakar on March 3, 2021.

A Senegalese Gendarme patrols and clears the streets of Dakar on March 3, 2021. Photo: SEYLLOU/AFP via Getty Images

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.

Senegale gendarmes fire tear gas during an operation to move out university students.

Senegale gendarmes fire tear gas during an operation to move out university students. Photo: SEYLLOU/AFP via Getty Images

Sonko has been placed under “judicial supervision” and is expected to appear in court later this week.

A demonstrator holds a Senegal national flag during a protest in Dakar, Senegal, on March 5, 2021. Photo: SEYLLOU/AFP via Getty Images

A demonstrator holds a Senegal national flag during a protest in Dakar, Senegal, on March 5, 2021. Photo: SEYLLOU/AFP via Getty Images