Senegal: Government Suspends Mobile Internet after Sonko’s Arrest for Violent Theft

By : Muriel Edjo

Date : mardi, 01 août 2023 20:55

As a new legal battle looms for the leader of the Patriotic Senegalese for Work, Ethics and Fraternity Party (Pastef), the government, fearing an outbreak like last June, has once again taken several security measures. These aim to limit the public mobilization in support of the politician.

The Ministry of Communication, Telecommunications, and Digital Economy has decided to again suspend mobile internet in the country. The Ministry explained that the measure is "due to the spreading of hateful and subversive messages relayed on social media in a context of disturbance to public order." It added that the suspension is "temporary during certain time slots." The suspension started on July 31, 2023.

Back on July 28, Ousmane Sonko, the head of the Pastef party, was arrested at his home in the evening on charges of "violent theft."

According to the Prosecutor of the Republic, the opposition politician "violently stole the mobile phone of a female gendarme whose vehicle had broken down near his home and immediately called on the people, through a subversive message disseminated on social networks, to stand ready."

Sonko, however, claimed he snatched the phone of one of the general intelligence officers who was posted outside his home since his trial in May 2023. According to him, the officer was filming him. The politician said he took the phone after asking the officer to unlock it and delete the pictures. 

In Dakar, where Ousmane Sonko began a hunger strike on Sunday, July 30, violent protests have again erupted in some districts of the capital. The government fears these demonstrations will be more violent than those of June, which followed the Pastef leader's conviction on June 1 for "corruption of youth."

At a press briefing on July 29, the Prosecutor of the Republic at the high court of Dakar, Abdou Karim Diop, revealed that Ousmane Sonko's arrest for theft only triggered action that was already imminent. He asserted that the opposition politician will be prosecuted on six other charges: calling for insurrection; undermining state security; criminal association; conspiracy against state authority; acts and maneuvers to compromise public security and create serious political disturbances, and criminal association linked to a terrorist enterprise.

Muriel Edjo


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