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Clashes in Senegal: in Ziguinchor, the youth “ready to die to free themselves”


Ziguinchor does not forget. Ziguinchor does not want to cry. That afternoon, in absolute silence, hundreds of anonymous people from all over Casamance, in the south of Senegal, and even from Dakar, surround a family of disconcerting dignity. As if to hug her and tell her “Souleymane did not die for nothing”blows her friend Aminata Sow.

Thursday, June 8, under an inclement sun, the crowd wanted to honor a young boy at the height of his ” sacrifice ” and accompany him to the cemetery. Six days earlier, Souleymane Sano, 25, fell “martyr”, say his relatives, during clashes with the police. According to Amnesty International, at least 23 people died across the country after the mayor of Ziguinchor, Ousmane Sonko, was sentenced to two years in prison for “Youth Corruption”.

Read also: In Senegal, President Macky Sall remains silent despite the violence

The opponent, tried in his absence, was acquitted of charges of death threats and rape brought by Adji Sarr, a former employee of a massage parlour, who was 20 years old at the time of the events, between December 2020 and February 2021. According to her lawyers, the plaintiff plans to appeal.

The mayor of Ziguinchor, Ousmane Sonko, on May 24, 2023, in his city, is the main opponent of Senegalese President Macky Sall.

But the sentence pronounced in first instance already prevents the president of the Patriots of Senegal for work, ethics and fraternity (Pastef) from standing for the presidential election of February 2024. A sentence all the more unfair, for the supporters of Ousmane Sonko, that the head of state Macky Sall maintains the ambiguity on his participation in the ballot, for a third term that many consider unconstitutional.

“We are being shot at! »

The death of Souleymane “results from a violent death by trauma [sic] thoracic due to impact of a projectile from a firearm”. It’s written on the “certificate for burial purposes” signed by the police commander and the city public prosecutor. “But we don’t specify that he was hit by a police bullet! »thunders Mohamed Fadel Sano, the victim’s uncle. In Ziguinchor, only one person is blamed for this chaos: Macky Sall. “He is the one who killed my son”insists in a calm voice Balla Moussa Sano, the father of the victim.

Read also: In Senegal, power and opposition blame each other for the violence

It’s time to take Souleymane and leave Lyndiane, his neighborhood. The convoy, made up of countless cars and motorcycles, stretches for hundreds of meters. Not a sound. Not a horn at intersections. Ziguinchor bows. Once arrived at the Cemetery of Belfort, a car tries to force the passage to a crossing. Young people get angry, ask the driver to wait for the convoy to end. Tone up. Right next to it, a police tank is parked near a cemetery wall. The presence of men in black is unbearable to them. Very quickly, some throw stones at the vehicle, which then begins to load. We hear a gust and people shout: “We are being shot at! »

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