Senegalese opposition leader claims police attempted assassination using toxic gas

Image courtesy of Bangkok Post

Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, 48 years old, claimed yesterday that foreign laboratories have confirmed that a gas police sprayed at him in March was “toxic and deadly,” accusing them of attempting to assassinate him.

In mid-March, Sonko stated that he felt unwell due to tear gas, which he claimed was deployed by the police during his forced transfer to the Dakar court where he faced defamation charges against Tourism Minister Mame Mbaye Niang, 42 years old. Sonko revealed that following the incident, he spent 5 days in a private clinic in Dakar for treatment, and samples were taken from his clothes and sent abroad for analysis.

Sonko mentioned yesterday, “We sent the elements (taken from his clothes) to two laboratories outside” Senegal and “to two countries including France for toxicological expertise,” without providing further details. The results showed that the gas was used as a riot control agent, and it has the potential to cause “immediate death,” added Sonko. He further stated that the samples have been retained in foreign laboratories, and a judge can write to them for the findings.

“There was an assassination attempt. I consider that it was premeditated,” the opposition figurehead said.

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Last month, Senegalese government spokesman and Trade Minister Abdou Karim Fofana, 49 years old, refuted Sonko’s claims of police involvement. “Even in the worst dictatorships, one does not poison opponents live on phones and media,” he posted on Twitter.

Sonko, a captivating speaker who secured third place in Senegal’s presidential election in 2019, has experienced a swift political ascent, partly due to his popularity among the younger population. He has declared his candidacy for the 2024 elections. However, he has had multiple legal confrontations, including an accusation of rape by an employee from a beauty salon where he frequented massages. The trial is scheduled for May 16.

The opposition has decried the situation as “a plot” to exclude Sonko from next year’s election, an allegation the government denies, accusing him of provoking demonstrations to avoid justice, reports Bangkok Post.

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With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!

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