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Pressure mounts on Senegalese president after deadly protests

Senegalese President, Macky Sall, faced mounting pressure on Sunday to speak out after a wave of deadly violence rocked the country.

Five people including a schoolboy have been killed in days of clashes that erupted after the arrest of an opposition leader, the worst violence in years in a country usually seen as a beacon of stability in a volatile region.

People torched cars, looted shops and hurled stones at police during the protests, which have highlighted longstanding grievances over living standards and economic exclusion in the country.

The unrest has alarmed the United Nations and Senegal’s neighbours, which have appealed for all sides to show restraint. Senegal’s government ombudsman Alioune Badara Cisse also urged Sall to respond to the violence, as the country braced for a new round of opposition protests from Monday.

“Senegalese people want to hear you,” Cisse said at a news conference in the capital Dakar. “Why the devil wouldn’t you talk to them?” “Do it before it’s too late,” added Cisse, who formerly served as a foreign minister under Sall but whose role as ombudsman is to mediate between government institutions and to safeguard human rights.

Clashes first broke out on Wednesday after the arrest of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, and escalated into nationwide protests which only abated on Saturday.

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