Senegalese President Macky Sall said the country’s commitment to democracy will continue “despite those that try to paint with darker colours.”
Sall was speaking in Lisbon to reporters along with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
In recent weeks, Dakar has seen deadly clashes break out between Senegalese police and supporters of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko after Sonko was convicted of corrupting youth, but acquitted on charges of raping a woman who worked at a massage parlour and making death threats against her.
In residential neighbourhoods, protesters threw rocks at police, barricaded roads and set tyres on fire. The army patrolled the streets as police fired tear gas at the demonstrators, detaining people deemed to be causing trouble.
Sonko came third in Senegal’s 2019 presidential election and is popular with the country’s youth. His supporters maintain his legal troubles are part of a government effort to derail his candidacy in the 2024 presidential election.
Sonko is considered President Macky Sall’s main competition and has urged Sall to state publicly that he won’t seek a third term in office.
The Senegalese president ordered an investigation to determine who was responsible for protests by supporters of his political opponent but said he was open to consulting with the parties involved.
Sall is on an official visit to Portugal. Following an official welcoming ceremony and meeting, the Portuguese President praised Senegal’s role trying to support peace in Ukraine.
On Saturday Russian President Vladimir Putin met with a group of leaders of African countries who travelled to Russia on a self-styled “peace mission” the day after they went to Ukraine, but the meeting ended with no visible progress.
The seven African leaders — the presidents of Comoros, Senegal, South Africa and Zambia, as well as Egypt’s prime minister and top envoys from the Republic of Congo and Uganda — visited Ukraine on Friday to try to help end the nearly 16-month-old war.
The African leaders then traveled to St. Petersburg on Saturday to meet with Putin who was attending Russia’s showpiece international economic forum.