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An Uneasy Calm Returns in Dakar

A judge in Senegal has charged opposition leader Ousmane Sonko with rape and released him on bail, after days of deadly protests sparked by his arrest last week. Mr Sonko, 46, is accused of assaulting a woman who worked in a beauty salon. He says the case is politically motivated to stop him running again in elections in 2024. He came third in the 2019 poll with 16% of the vote. Demonstrators scuffled with security forces outside court in the capital, Dakar, before Monday’s hearing. Police have deployed armoured cars in the city in the wake of several days of clashes in which at least eight people were killed, including a teenager in the southern town of Diaobé – the most serious violence Senegal has seen for several years. Tear gas was also fired at protesters in central Dakar on Monday, after they pelted officers with stones. Mr Sonko is popular among young Senegalese, and an opposition collective known as the Movement for the Defence of Democracy has called for three days of mass protests, starting on Monday. Schools in the capital have also been ordered to close for a week following the unrest.