By Nico Colombant
Senegalese Authorities Disperse Protest After Riots in Capital
Senegalese security forces broke up a union march after groups of young men rioted in several parts of the capital
Dakar, erecting burning barricades, destroying market areas and attacking government offices. Protesters are complaining
President Abdoulaye Wade is not doing enough to help workers and the poor, while trying to embellish the city for an
upcoming summit of Islamic nations.
Hundreds of union members marched in central Dakar Wednesday despite a ban on their protest announced just as they were
about to begin.
The unions called on police to join them on their side. Instead security forces fired tear gas.
A security official explained he was hoping to make the march secure, but was now under orders to stop it.
March organizer Cheikh Diop said this is not normal, and that he will plan a new protest when the city is calmer.
He says the protest is against higher prices, low salaries, and inadequate employment policies, among other problems.
Another marcher and union leader, Fatou Samba, says Senegalese now only eat once or twice a day. She says many families
are abandoning their children, while young men try to flee to Europe, and young women are turning to prostitution.
An official at ruling party offices in the Medina neighborhood of Dakar shows how angry youths ransacked the place
earlier in the day as he tried to pick up official documents which have scattered outside in the street.
Nearby, a young street hawker says President Wade does not understand the plight of the poor. He says they have to work
by any possible means to survive.
The protests follow a decision by authorities to ban street vending and clear out informal market stalls along main
arteries, which are being renovated ahead of a scheduled March summit of Islamic countries.