DAKAR, May 15 (AP) — A policeman was killed Monday after security forces clashed with supporters of Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko in his hometown, according to an Interior Ministry statement and media reports. Several demonstrators were injured.
The unrest in the southern Senegalese town of Ziguinchor came a day before Sonko’s rape trial was expected to begin in the country’s capital Dakar. Sonko was charged over a woman’s allegations that he assaulted her while she was working at a massage salon.
If convicted, Sonko faces up to 10 years in prison and will be barred from running for president.
A police armored vehicle hit and killed the officer while backing up, according to local authorities. The government offered its condolences to the officer’s family, calling his death a tragic accident.
The clashes took place near Sonko’s home, where he has been living while vowing to resist any summons to Dakar to attend a rape trial. Sonko challenged President Macky Sall in Senegal’s 2019 presidential election and was elected mayor of Ziguinchor last year.
Supporters began gathering outside his home on Sunday night, fearing police would arrest him and take him to court. Calls for supporters to serve as Sonko’s “shields” circulated on social media. And protect their leader from arrest.
Sonko was recently sentenced to six months of probation in a defamation case and announced he would no longer respond to court summons.
Sankoh has not yet received a subpoena but will appear in court “if conditions are met,” his lawyer told reporters at a news conference in Paris on Monday.
Senegalese police deployed additional officers in Ziguinchor and elsewhere in Senegal. (Associated Press)
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