In response to escalating political tensions and recent attacks on its diplomatic and consular missions, Senegal has made the decision to close all of its consulates abroad.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that the country’s diplomatic missions in cities such as Bordeaux, Milan, Paris, and New York had been targeted.
Foreign Minister Aissata Tall Sall issued a statement explaining the closure as a precautionary measure due to the significant damage caused by a series of aggressions.
The attacks on these missions follow the recent sentencing of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko to a two-year jail term, which sparked deadly protests in the capital city of Dakar and other towns.
Over a span of three days, violent clashes between protesters and security forces resulted in the loss of 16 lives and left more than 350 people injured.
The unrest extended to Senegal’s diplomatic missions abroad, with the consulate in Milan experiencing severe vandalism, including the destruction of passport making machines and identity cards.
Foreign Minister Sall assured that consular services would resume once the necessary material and security conditions are met.
Reports from Italy detailed an attack on Senegal’s Milan consulate by approximately 40 Sonko supporters, who vandalized the premises, assaulted the consul general, and set a fire before police intervened.
Ousmane Sonko, who finished third in the 2019 presidential election against President Macky Sall, was charged with rape and making death threats against Adji Sarr, an employee of a beauty salon in Dakar.
While he was acquitted of the rape charges, Sonko received a two-year sentence for corrupting the youth, effectively disqualifying him from participating in the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for next year.
Throughout the trial, Sonko claimed that the charges against him were politically motivated, aimed at preventing his candidacy in 2024.
In another development, the Communications Ministry announced on Tuesday the restoration of mobile internet access throughout the country.
The access had been previously cut due to the violent demonstrations that occurred.