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Thousands of young protesters took to the streets in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, over the indictment of a popular opposition candidate and to lash out about socioeconomic conditions, according to reports.
The Financial Times reported last week that at least eight people were killed and military vehicles were deployed throughout the city after rape charges were filed against Ousmane Sonko, an opposition leader in the nation. He denied the charges and said they were politically motivated.
Sonko, the president of the Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics and Fraternity (Pastef) party, was arrested on 3 March. Since then, the government has been accused of making arbitrary arrests and opening fire with live ammunition on protesters.
“We cannot allow [President] Macky Sall to flout democracy and imprison his opponents,” a protester told Al Jazeera. “Ousmane Sonko represents only a hope for a better future.”
The report said the protester once worked as a tax inspector but lost his job in 2016 after raising suspicions that the brother of the country’s president had some murky tax information. 
The fierce protests have taken many international observers by surprise because the country has been considered one of the region’s democratic success stories. But the FT reported that protesters have voiced their disapproval over France’s continued influence over the country and coronavirus restrictions, which have been blamed on damaging its economy. 
Eric Humphery-Smith, a research analyst for Africa at Maplecroft, a global risk consulting firm, told Quartz Africa,
“One reason why the protests are now spreading has been the government’s reactionary response. The authorities flooded the streets with soldiers while simultaneously accusing protesters of being the source of violence.”
TREND FORECAST: Once again, it is a “Youth Revolution” fighting against the establishment which, in the case of Senegal, has imposed strict lockdown and curfew rules that have crippled its economy. In the nation of 16.3 million people, only 930 have died of the virus since last year… or just 0.0057 percent of the population. Over a year, 0.00048 percent of the population died each month, yet the nation has imposed far greater COVID laws and curfews than neighboring countries. 
Thus, as economic conditions deteriorate further and with the young having dark prospects for a prosperous future, protests will escalate. As violence rises, so, too, will the refugee crisis, as more people throughout Africa seek safe-haven homelands, particularly in Europe. This will, in turn, fuel anti-immigration/anti-establishment European populist movements.

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