Senegal politician on trial for defying protest ban

Senegalese opposition politician Guy Marius Sagna will stand trial on Tuesday for taking part in banned protests that left three people dead on 17 June.

The demonstrations were triggered by the government’s decision to exclude a list of opposition candidates from next month’s legislative elections.

Mr Sagna is facing charges of “calling for and participating in prohibited demonstrations”. He was arrested a day after the protests in the southern region of Casamance.

It comes a day after a court sentenced opposition MP Dethie Fall to a six-month suspended prison term for taking part in the protests.

The main opposition leader Ousmane Sonko has demanded the release of several activists – including Mr Sagna, who were arrested during the protests – and has threatened to mobilise his supporters to “come and get them” if they are not freed by the government.

Mr Sonko, who came third in the 2019 presidential election, is one of the people prevented from running in the 31 July parliamentary vote by the constitutional council over alleged non-compliance with the country’s electoral law.

He has called for further protests to be held on Wednesday, despite an ongoing ban on opposition gatherings, with a real risk of violent confrontations with the police.

Instability in Senegal, considered a regional beacon of peace, could have ramifications for West Africa, which has suffered a string of unconstitutional power grabs since 2020.

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