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Fear and Loathing in Senegal

Summary:
President Macky Sall’s government has cracked down violently on recent countrywide demonstrations and restricted freedom of speech. It should instead seek to protect Senegal's hard-won democratic gains by de-escalating tensions and promoting economic recovery. NEW YORK – Large-scale protests have swept Senegal since the beginning of March, reflecting widespread anger at corruption, high unemployment, and what many regard as a politically motivated rape charge against opposition leader Ousmane Sonko (he denies the accusation). President Macky Sall’s government has cracked down violently on the demonstrations – the West African country’s largest in a decade. At least eight people have died, and restrictions on freedom of speech

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President Macky Sall’s government has cracked down violently on recent countrywide demonstrations and restricted freedom of speech. It should instead seek to protect Senegal's hard-won democratic gains by de-escalating tensions and promoting economic recovery.

NEW YORK – Large-scale protests have swept Senegal since the beginning of March, reflecting widespread anger at corruption, high unemployment, and what many regard as a politically motivated rape charge against opposition leader Ousmane Sonko (he denies the accusation). President Macky Sall’s government has cracked down violently on the demonstrations – the West African country’s largest in a decade. At least eight people have died, and restrictions on freedom of speech have been imposed.

Sall’s government should step back and reconsider its approach. Rather than threatening the country’s hard-won democratic gains, it should de-escalate tensions and promote economic recovery.

Senegal’s long march toward democracy began seven decades ago, with demands for independence from French colonial rule. The country achieved that goal following a 1960...

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