DAKAR (Reuters) – Senegalese honked car horns and banged on pots and pans in the capital Dakar on Wednesday evening in the latest protest organised by the political opposition ahead of legislative elections next month.
Senegal’s main opposition coalition, Yewwi Askan Wi, asked its supporters to come to their windows, balconies and doorways and clang lids together at 8 p.m. to signal their anger over the disqualification of their candidate list in the upcoming poll.
The demonstration followed street protests last week that were banned by authorities and turned violent as police fired tear gas and water cannons during clashes with protesters.
Opposition leader Ousmane Sonko said three people were killed in the June 17 protests, one in Dakar and two in the southern region of Casamance.
Several opposition politicians were also arrested, adding fuel to Wednesday’s demonstration.
“I’m here to protest for justice,” said Ibrahima Soumare, a 47-year-old tour guide wearing the colours of Senegal’s flag and holding two large pot lids on which he had written “No to dictatorship” and “Protesting is a constitutional right”.
The coalition’s candidate list was disqualified from the July 31 poll for technical reasons, according to a court ruling.
Tensions have run high in Senegal since major protests broke out last year after Sonko was arrested on rape charges, which he denied.
Many accuse President Macky Sall of trying to eliminate his competition after two main rivals were jailed on corruption charges in 2015 and 2018.
Sall was swept to power in 2012 on a wave of popular support which has long since soured. His two terms will be up in 2024 and some opponents fear he will try to run for a third, an option Sall has neither confirmed nor denied.
(Reporting by Bate Felix, Ngouda Dione, Diadie Ba; writing by Nellie Peyton; editing by Richard Pullin)