By Landing Ceesay
Senegal’s security forces have been urged by the Gambia Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to refrain from using force against citizens in order to de-escalate tensions in the country.
“The Gambian civil society has been keenly following the political events in Senegal, especially in the wake of protests by opposition and civil society actors promoted mainly by the trial and now sentencing of opposition leader of PASTEF Mr. Ousmane Sonko on 1st June 2023.
“We wish to, first of all, express our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who died in the protests and wish a speedy recovery to the injured. In this regard, we wish to call for calm within the population and urge the security forces to urgently de-escalate the situation by abiding by the rule of law and restraining their use of force as they seek to maintain law and order,” CSOs said in a statement signed by TANGO Chairperson Mrs. Yadicon Njie Eribo.
Gambian CSOs said Senegal and the Gambia share the same historical and sociocultural umbilical cord, and by geography are destined to live side by side, for which reason they all share the same responsibility to care for each other.
The CSOs further stated that the destiny of the Gambia and Senegal are therefore intertwined and cannot be separated, hence the people of these two sister Republics cannot and must not ignore the prevailing conditions in either society, whether good or bad.
The CSOs said this fact has been manifested many times over in various situations that have erupted in the two countries.
“In this regard, we the members of the Gambian Civil Society wish for both the Gambia and Senegal nothing other than democracy, good governance, and respect for human rights, and adherence to the rule of law. We are pleased to note that Senegal has been a beacon of hope for not only Africa because of its strong democratic credentials over the past two decades, but also because Senegal was hugely instrumental in the removal of dictatorship and restoration of democracy in the Gambia in 2017.
“During our period of dictatorship lasting more than two decades, both the Government and people of Senegal gave invaluable support to Gambian citizens, as Senegal was the first port of call for most Gambians fleeing the reign of terror. In Senegal, we found home, protection, and comfort. We note with concern that of recent Senegal, dubbed “Le pays de Dialogue” has seen its democratic space shrinking fast,” the CSO said.
There has been unrest in Senegal for weeks after an opposition politician, Ousmane Sonko was cleared of rape charges but sentenced to 2 years in prison for corrupting the youth.
The sentencing of Sonko for corrupting the youth did not go well with his supporters, who took to the streets to vent their dissatisfaction with the judgment.
Since the protest started, over 20 people have been confirmed dead, and hundreds of others have been injured. The Senegalese security forces also arrested hundreds of protesters as well as Journalists.