Senegal: Transport strike, street protests ban controversy
A strike action called by Senegal’s Transport unions has left many travelers stranded on the Senegal-Gambia border and in other parts of the country.
Unions are making a number of demands from the authorities including reduction in petrol prices on the local market. The latest strike is in continuation of one, which started earlier this month, but was suspended, because of the big Senegalese Muslim pilgrimage to the holy city of Touba.
The latest strike, which started on Wednesday, was partially observed in the capital, Dakar.
But for people making cross-border trips, they have been feeling the impact, as WADR’s Alpha Jallow found out, in the Senegalese town of Karang on the border with the Gambia, hundreds of kilometers east of Dakar.
Alpha has been speaking with some of the stranded travelers and this is what they have been telling him, as he explained to WADR’s colleague Enoh Ndri.
Click audio below to listen
In another development, Amnesty International has called on the Senegalese government not curtail freedom of expression and assembly in the run-up to next month’s presidential election.
In a statement released on Thursday, Amnesty said there was “no apparent justification” for the government’s five-day ban on street demonstrations.
On Tuesday, the Senegalese government announced that it was imposing a five-day ban on street demonstrations, ahead of Friday’s expected ruling of the constitutional council on the legality of President Abdoulaye Wade’s bid for another term in office.
The ban takes effect on Thursday. Earlier on Monday, January 23 the 85-year-old Senegalese leader held a peace rally and urged his compatriots to join him in promoting peace in the West African country.
The constitutional council’s ruling is due to end months of controversy over the candidacy of the Senegalese leader in the February 26 election.
But in its statement, Amnesty International said the ban “undermines the right to demonstrate peacefully as enshrined in” the country’s constitution,
The London-based rights group West Africa Researcher, Salvatore Saguès said, “in this tense pre-election period where lawful political debate should be held freely, Senegal’s authorities’ decision to ban public gatherings is worrying.”
At the same time, the coalition of opposition and civil society groups, known as M-23 Movement has threatened to defy the ban.