Senegal announces the temporary closure of its consulates abroad after several attacks

On Tuesday, the Senegalese government restored mobile Internet access, which had been cut in some areas after deadly riots in recent days, but announced the temporary closure of its consulates general abroad after attacks against several of them.

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On Tuesday June 6, the Senegalese government restored mobile Internet access, which had been cut off in some areas after several days of unrest last week that left at least 16 dead. At the same time, the authorities announced the temporary closure of the country’s general consulates abroad, following the attacks suffered by several of them.

Violence in the country was triggered by the two-year prison sentence of Ousmane Sonko, a fierce opponent of President Macky Sall and a candidate for the 2024 presidential elections, for a case of adultery. This sentence also sparked demonstrations abroad, some of them violent.

The closure of the consulates is “a precautionary measure” that “follows a series of recent attacks against Senegalese diplomatic and consular missions abroad, especially in Paris, Bordeaux (France), Milan (Italy) and New York,” he said. the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement published on social networks.

It reported “severe damage”, particularly in Milan, where machines used to make passports and identity cards had been destroyed.

The consulates will reopen “when the material and security conditions allow it,” he said. This closure deprives hundreds of thousands of Senegalese abroad of consular services such as assistance or the issuance of passports.

A “worrying sign” ahead of the presidential election

Between June 1 and 3, Senegal experienced its worst unrest in years after the conviction of Ousmane Sonko, a popular figure among the young and disadvantaged, who is now expected to be unable to run in the 2024 presidential election.

Sonko has repeatedly stated that the Government conspires to keep him out of the elections, but the Executive denies it.

The authorities and the opposition blamed each other for the violence. The presidential camp cited calls for “insurrection” by Ousmane Sonko to escape justice. He denounced the riots as an attempt to destabilize the state.

Supporters of Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko clash with police in Dakar, Senegal, on June 3, 2023.
Supporters of Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko clash with police in Dakar, Senegal, on June 3, 2023. © Zohra Bensemra, Reuters

The NGO Human Rights Watch called for an immediate, “independent and credible” investigation into the violence.

He also noted in a statement that “excessive use of force and arbitrary arrests” had become commonplace since 2021, and that in recent months the authorities had “cracked down on members of the opposition, the media and dissent”.

He considers the recent outbreak a “worrying sign” on the eve of the presidential elections.

Accusations of “authoritarian drift”

On Monday, three prominent Senegalese intellectuals, Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, Boubacar Boris Diop and Felwine Sarr, blamed the violence on President Macky Sall’s “authoritarian drift” and his plans to run for a third term in 2024, despite objections. constitutional for many.

One of the president’s advisers, Yoro Dia, responded in a column on online media, criticizing them for a “fundamentally partisan” text that ignores the “constant calls for insurrection” by Ousmane Sonko’s party.

“This text, unlike Zola’s ‘J’accuse’, which was like the ‘strike of a match on a dark night’, to use Mbougar’s words, will be like the tracks of a camel in a sandstorm” , he claimed.

Until now, the Head of State has remained silent about the events, despite requests for him to comment.

Late on Monday afternoon, he visited the Khalifa General of the Mourides, a powerful religious brotherhood, without prior notice, the government newspaper ‘Le Soleil’ reported. The Khalifa, Serigne Mountakha Mbacké, and religious dignitaries are considered to wield considerable influence in politics.

The content of the conversations has not been disclosed. But “the wisdom of his (the khalife’s) advice in certain situations can contribute to the return of peace and stability to Senegal,” says ‘Le Soleil’.

*With AFP; adapted from its original in French

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Written by Editor TLN

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