Dozens of supporters of Senegalese opposition figure Ousmane Sonko have clashed with police in the capital Dakar after a beautician accused the politician of rape.
Sonko finished third in 2019 elections that saw President Macky Sall win a second term in office, and is considered a future presidential contender in the West African state.
But controversy has dogged the politician since early this month, when Senegalese media reported that an employee of a beauty salon had filed rape charges against him.
Head researcher at the Fongoli #Senegal chimp site is Michel Sadiakho. He knows the chimps better than anyone & is an excellent scientist, observer & all-round person. Here, he uses thermal imaging to record his subject. Photo by @McKenseymiller pic.twitter.com/8CadJN2w9e— Dr. Jill Pruetz (@jillpruetz) February 5, 2021
Sonko denied the charges in a series of Twitter posts late Sunday, saying he had visited the salon for massages to relieve back pain.
The 46-year-old head of the opposition Pastef party added that the rape accusation was an "attempt at political liquidation," noting that two people had always been present during the massages.
"I explicitly accuse Macky Sall... of fomenting this political plot against me," he said.
A Pastef official said that Sonko had refused to attend a police summons on Monday.
On Twitter, Sonko said he did not attend because he had parliamentary immunity, but added that he would speak to investigators were his immunity lifted.
Dozens of supporters gathered outside Sonko's residence in Dakar on Monday and hurled rocks at police officers.
Officers fired tear gas to disperse them.
The protesters later moved into nearby neighbourhoods and set up roadblocks at roundabouts.
Sonko's current whereabouts are unknown.
Senegal's government was also not immediately available for comment.
The rape allegation comes amid uncertainty over whether 59-year-old Sall will run for a third term.
Presidents in the former French colony are limited to two consecutive terms, but Sall launched a constitutional review in 2016, raising suspicions that he intends to run again.
Other presidents in the region have used constitutional changes to extend their grip on power.
In Guinea, 82-year-old President Alpha Conde won a controversial third term last year after pushing through a new constitution that allowed him to bypass a two-term limit.
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, 78, was also elected for an equally contentious third term after having revised the country's constitution.
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