Senegalese police break up opposition demo
Senegalese police fired tear gas at a banned opposition pro-democracy rally in the capital Dakar on Tuesday and arrested several protesters, according to AFP journalists, opposition figures and the local press.
The "peaceful rally" by the National Resistance Front (FRN), an opposition coalition, was broken up outside the Interior ministry -- an area in Dakar where protests have been "illegally" banned, according to the opposition.
Riot police set up checkpoints outside the ministry to restrict access before the rally began and later fired tear gas at protesters, AFP journalists said.
At least one opposition leader, MP Oumar Sarr, was arrested by police, his supporters said.
Other opposition leaders were also detained, according to local reports.
The rally was called after two prominent Senegalese opposition figures had their hopes of running for the presidency in 2019 elections blocked by the courts.
The court of appeal recently upheld a five-year jail term against leading politician Khalifa Sall for misuse of funds.
The Supreme Court has also dismissed an attempt by former minister Karim Wade to be reinstated on the electoral list, a prerequisite to standing in elections, which are due next February.
The two men have been seen as a growing challenge to incumbent President Macky Sall, who shares the same surname with Khalifa but is not a relation, and their lawyers have accused the government of using the judiciary to block them from contesting the polls.
At the rally, the FRN also called for "the establishment of an independent authority to organise elections" in 2019 instead of the Interior Minister Ali Ngouye Ndiaye, a member of the president's party.
About 100 contenders plan to take part in the 2019 presidential election, including President Sall, who was elected in 2012 for seven years.