Opposition Leaders Arrested as Police Swoop on Demonstrators

Police in Senegal have arrested leading figures of opposition political parties and violently dispersed protesters.

Former Prime Minister, Idrissa Seck, Chairman of the Rewmi Party, Malick Gakou as well as his counterpart of the Grand Party, Thierno Bocoum, were arrested by police on April 19, 2018 and released the next morning of April 20, 2019.

According to the MFWA’s correspondent in Senegal, the coalition of opposition political parties; organised a protest rally in front of the National Assembly of Senegal against the revision of the electoral code of Senegal. The revised law which was adopted nonetheless, requires candidates to obtain the signatures of at least 0.8% of the registered voters to be eligible to stand for elections due in 2019.

The Prefect of Dakar, Alioune Badara Samb had banned the protest citing security reasons, but the protesters defied the ban and were later violently dispersed by the police.

This is the second incident of violent dispersion of protesters in Senegal this year. In the first incident on March 9, 2018, the police beat up protesters and used tear gas to disrupt the march which was also organised by the opposition. Fifteen protesters, including two members of parliament, were arrested and released later the same day.

The MFWA is concerned at the use of inexistent “security risks” and excessive force to deny citizens their constitutional right to peaceful gatherings and demonstrations. Senegal has a reputation for political tolerance and respect for democratic values including freedom of assembly. The attacks on protesters are, therefore, worrying. We call on the Senegalese authorities to respect and protect the freedom of assembly and expression rights.

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