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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Gov’t calls for calm in Senegal

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By Tabora Bojang

President Adama Barrow yesterday called for calm and peace in Senegal following deadly violence after main opposition leader Ousmane Sonko was sentenced to two years in jail for “corrupting youth”.

Sonko was embroiled in a legal tussle he said was politically orchestrated after a woman working in a massage parlour accused him of rape. He was cleared of this charge by a criminal court on Thursday but found guilty of a separate and lesser criminal offence of immoral behaviour towards an individual younger than 21 years.

The sentence which could bar Sonko from running in next February’s presidential election, has since sparked widespread rioting resulting in the death of at least 15 people in Dakar, Ziguinchor and other regions of the country.

A statement issued by the government spokesperson expressed The Gambia’s concern over the violence and called on all political, religious and community leaders to intensify efforts in calming the worrisome situation and amicably resolving it.

“With Senegal’s strong democratic institutions and proven track record as a respected negotiator and peace-builder in the sub-region, President Adama Barrow and the Gambian people strongly believe that the Senegalese government would peacefully resolve the current situation in the true Senegambia fashion of dialogue, mutual respect and reconciliation,” it added.

The Gambian leadership also called on President Sall to intensify his “on-going efforts in finding a negotiated, peaceful and durable solution” to the crisis.

“President Barrow, on behalf of the government and people of The Gambia, expresses his heartfelt condolences for the lives lost and prays for the speedy recovery of the wounded,” the statement concluded.

The violence attracted wide condemnation from the international community with the UN, AU, Ecowas and the EU urging leaders to “avoid acts which tarnish the face of Senegalese democracy, of which Africa has always been proud”.

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