As of 5 March 2021, violent demonstrations over the detention of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko are ongoing in the capital Dakar and elsewhere in Senegal. Protests initially broke out on 3 March following Sonko’s arrest due to rape allegations and have since continued to escalate. Demonstrators have blocked roads and thrown stones at security personnel, who have responded by firing tear gas to disperse the gatherings. Protesters have also looted and burned several stores, gas stations and media outlets in Dakar. Following days of protests, the government banned motorcycles in the Dakar region through at least 2100 local time/UTC on 6 March. Furthermore, internet access has been disrupted across Senegal — with social media and messaging applications being most affected — and authorities suspended the signals of two television stations. Thus far, at least one person has been killed during the violence in Bignona, a town located in the southern Casamance region. Media reports indicate that an additional four individuals were killed during clashes on 5 March.

Analyst comment: Sonko is expected to appear in court later in the day on 5 March to face charges of disturbing public order and participating in an unauthorized demonstration, which is likely to spark additional protests.