After appearing in a Dakar court on Monday 8 March 2021, Senegal's Ousmane Sonko was indicted on rape and insurrection charges and released on bail. Following his release, Sonko called on his supporters and protestors to intensify and continue with the ongoing protests in the West African country.

So far, Amnesty International reports that there have been at minimum eight people killed during the protests in Senegal as a result of protestors clashing with police.

β€œWe are not asking the people to go and unseat Macky Sall. But let’s be clear, the revolution is marching its way to 2024,” Sonko is reported to have said after being released on bail.

πŸ“· Ousmane Sonko greets supporters as he passes by on his way to court in Dakar, Senegal, on 3 March 2021.

Rape charges and political battle

What sparked the recent protests in Senegal that initially started in the capital Dakar is the arrest of Sonko on public disturbance charges with rape being added to the charges as well. Sonko has repeatedly denied that he raped the masseuse at the massage parlor in Dakar in February 2021 despite it being reported that the alleged victim stated that after raping her, Sonko threatened to kill her if she disclosed what happened.

To make matters more interesting, the protestors have also mostly expressed that they believe the rape charges are politically motivated by current President Macky Sall. Many protestors were present outside court before Sonko appeared and are reported to have repeatedly chanted "Free Sonko!"

However, it is also important to highlight that the political unrest in Senegal has long been brewing before current protests.

During the 2019 elections, Sonko came third in the polls with Sall being elected as President. Since then and heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, many Senegalese have often expressed frustration about the government given their economic situation and the lack of jobs.

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