Senegal blocks TikTok in widening clampdown on dissent


Senegalese authorities on Wednesday blocked access to social media app TikTok, widening a clampdown on dissent days after they dissolved the country’s main opposition party and took its leader into custody.

A power struggle between Pastef party leader Ousmane Sonko and President Macky Sall has triggered at times violent demonstrations, most recently on Monday, and damaged Senegal’s reputation as the most stable democracy in West Africa.

The region has witnessed a wave of military coups in the last three years, including a week ago in Niger.

Senegal dissolved Pastef and restricted access to internet services on Monday, citing threats to the stability of the country. Its communications minister used a similar justification to block TikTok.

“The TikTok application is the social network favoured by people with bad intentions to spread hateful and subversive messages,” Moussa Bocar Thiam said in a statement on Wednesday.

Sonko was charged on Saturday with plotting an insurrection and other offences, and taken into custody.

Opposition supporters, who have held protests throughout the year, accuse Sall of levelling charges in order to disqualify Sonko from a presidential election due on 2024.

The government denies this and blames Sonko and Pastef for stoking violence.

On Monday night two people were killed in opposition protests in the southern city of Ziguinchor, where Sonko is mayor, and two people burned to death on Tuesday when attackers hurled petrol bombs into a passenger bus

Riots broke out across the country in June, killing at least 16 people, after Sonko was sentenced to two years in prison for immoral behaviour towards people younger than 21. He has yet to start serving that term.

Sonko, who denies wrongdoing, had urged his followers to take to the streets at the time.

A month ago Sall ended widespread speculation by saying he would not seek a third term as president next year, which critics had said would be illegal. His party has yet to put forward its preferred candidate for the election.

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024