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Senegal shuts social media amid sentencing of opposition leader

Violence breaks out in Senegal after opposition leader is sentenced. June 2, 2023 [AP/BBC]

The Senegalese government has shut down social media platforms and deployed its military in the capital city of Dakar.

This follows eruption of violence over the sentencing of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko.

Sonko, who was standing trial on allegations of rape and corruption, was sentenced on Thursday to two years in jail.

The court acquitted Sonko of charges of rape and issuing death threats, but found him guilty of corrupting the youth under the country’s penal code.

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At least nine persons have died after violent clashes between protesters and security forces.

In a bid to control the situation and prevent it from escalating, the government banned social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Telegram, TikTok, WhatsApp and YouTube.

According to interior minister Antoine Félix Diome, the government imposed restrictions on social media to stop the “dissemination of hate and subversive messages”.

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Sonko, who is the mayor of Ziguinchor city, is said to be popular among the youth.

Sonko’s PASTEF party has described the sentencing as political and a ploy to prevent him from contesting next year’s presidential election.

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