Senegalese opposition leader calls for mass protests ahead of trial verdict

Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko on Tuesday called for mass protests as the country braced for the outcome of his trial on rape charges.

Escalating a tug-of-war with President Macky Sall’s government, Sonko said he was being “illegally held” by security forces.

“I urge all Senegalese people to come out onto the streets,” he said on social media.

He added: “Everyone should rise up as one, because power should remain with the people.”

Sonko, 48-year-old leader of the PASTEF-Patriots party, is a fiery critic of head of state Macky Sall and wields a big following among young people.

He came third in the 2019 presidential elections and has already declared he will contest next year’s ballot.

He faces the expected verdict on Thursday of a rape trial whose details have left the conservative West African state riveted.

Sonko denies the allegations and says his prosecution is a political plot to bar him from the 2024 vote.

Tensions have stoked fears of a repeat of deadly violence that has battered Senegal’s standing as a beacon of stability in troubled West Africa.

When Sonko was arrested in 2021, several days of clashes left at least 12 people dead. Several more have died in sporadic violence this year.

Sonko boycotted the first two sessions of the trial, citing security reasons.

But last Friday, he set out for Dakar at the head of a so-called “caravan of freedom” of supporters from Ziguinchor, a city in southern Senegal where he is mayor.

The convoy led to clashes with security forces in which one man died before police swooped in and took him to Dakar.

Sonko resurfaced on social media overnight Monday to say he was being “illegally held” and make the call for mass protests.

“How can a country that calls itself a democracy justify confining without any legal basis a citizen whose only wrong was to be a fervent and unflinching opponent of Macky Sall’s regime?” he asked.

He called for a “national resistance movement” to defend democracy and freedoms.

– Legal storm –

Feelings among Sonko supporters are running high ahead of the climax of the trial.

Young followers clashed with police in several areas of Dakar on Monday.

The trial is based on allegations of sexual assault and death threats, filed by a worker at a Dakar beauty salon.

Conviction for rape in Senegal carries a jail term of 10 to 20 years.

Sonko has said he went there for a massage for chronic back pain and says the case against him is politically motivated.

His bid for the presidency has also been clouded by a six-month suspended sentence, handed down in March, for defaming Tourism Minister Mame Mbaye Niangtou.

Political tensions have also been stoked by Sall’s refusal to rule out running for a third term as president, a move his opponents say would be unconstitutional.

President Sall has called for a national dialogue to be held Wednesday to ease tensions. Sonko has said he will boycott the meeting, while Khalifa Sall, another opposition candidate, has said he will attend.

Sall was elected in 2012, when the presidential term was seven years, and re-elected in 2019, when the term was reduced to five years.

Do you love solving puzzles?

Join our community and solve the Puzzling fun with our range of crosswords

image of various puzzles image of background wavy graphic

AM Live

AM Live is NTV's morning current affairs show that sets the agenda for the day with insightful panels every weekday.

Business Redefined

Business Redefined is Kenya’s premier thought leadership platform for unpacking matters regarding economic and finance policy as well demystifying complex developments in the region’s capital markets.

Daily Politics

This is Daily Politics. Here we look into the ins and outs of everything Kenyan politics. We pull no punches and have no reason to sugarcoat anything that matters to Kenyans.


A collection of our premium content. Diam curabitur vehicula A collection of our premium content. Diam curabitur vehicula

Full Episodes

A collection of our premium content. Diam curabitur vehicula A collection of our premium content. Diam curabitur vehicula

Gumzo La Sato

Gumzo La Sato is a live social issues show that aims to create awareness about issues affecting the larger society. The discussions range from Parenting, Marital bliss and struggles, Oppression, violence, and all matters of the Heart.

Health Diary

Health Diary is a weekly show that highlights different types of diseases/conditions and seeks ways to prevent, treat/manage them. The show debunks this through real life stories and also feature specialists in different fields, to offer medical advice on the same.

Letter To My Younger Self

Letter To My Younger Self is a podcast where guests get to write a letter to their younger self, from which Maxine formulates questions to ask them during the hour-long show.

Mazao Talks

Mazao looks at agriculture and agribusiness

Nation Reports

Nation Reports is a weekly podcast offers an opportunity for listeners to interact with various reporters and journey with them as they unravel the biggest most emotive stories.

Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost peeks through the story of Louis Otieno, the times, and everything in between.



Speaking of GEN Z

Speaking of Gen Z brings you entertaining but meaningful conversations about a generation that is trying to navigate through adulthood. Join hosts Michelle, Jackie and Esther as they unravel all things Gen Z.


Sport-On is a 30-minute sports magazine show on NTV and 3 hours on NATION FM. The show seeks to give the sports “fanatics” and “funatics” comprehensive and in-depth coverage of sports both locally and internationally.


Thamani is a business show which is dedicated to emerging issues regarding micro, small and medium size businesses.

The Trend

A two-hour-long live show that airs on Fridays. The show focuses on what is current in the entertainment industry, controversial and popular across all media platforms targeting those aged between 25 and 35 years.

The trend podcast

The trend podcast highlights and captures the best of banter from #TTTT segment that airs every Friday on NTV. It's the TTTT EXTRA

The Wicked Edition

The Wicked Edition with Dr. King’ori seeks to address serious issues through humour and relatable wit. It is a two-part half hour show filmed in front of a live audience


A collection of our premium content. Diam curabitur vehicula A collection of our premium content. Diam curabitur vehicula


Twende is a travel show that highlights beautiful, unique, diverse locations, people, and cultures. The show offers fresh perspectives on familiar locations and memorable experiences in new ones.


This Saturday evening lifestyle show lets viewers share their stories and life experiences as openly & honestly for the purpose of shifting the culture of silence.

VIP Access

VIP ACCESS is Anyiko Owoko’s YouTube and podcast show on Music and Culture dedicated to promoting Africa’s most promising talent and creatives. This podcast grants you VIP access into timeless interviews while providing a platform for rising as well as established artists across the continent. Since launching in 2018, Anyiko has interviewed over 70 African music stars.


This weekly news show aims to have all sides of debate but not be constrained by it, listen to main voices in the contest but not allow them to hold the viewers hostage, entertain debate but allow push back with all due respect.

When death do us part

In this podcast, three widowers openly speak about the process of grief, how they found themselves exposed to the emotional turmoil of losing their wives, and how society still does not know how to deal with them.

Your World

Your World is a health, wellness and variety show. It provides a platform for audiences and experts to share their experiences on how to improve or manage health issues, across Kenya and the Africa region.