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Rights activist detained over opposition protests

(MFWA/IFEX) – 31 January 2012 – Alioune Tine, a human rights defender and political activist who was arrested and detained for organizing a demonstration against the third-term bid of President Abdoulaye Wade, was released without charge on January 30, 2012 after a 72-hour detention.

The Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent reported that Tine was picked up by officials from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Senegalese Police at about 5:00 p.m. local time on January 28, 2012, a day after he led the demonstration. Although he was not charged, he was reportedly interrogated at length on issues relating to the demonstration.

Tine is the coordinator of the June 23 Movement, a coalition of civil society groups and opposition political parties formed last year to oppose President Abdoulaye Wade's plans to run for a third term.

The January 27 protest was one of a series of protests planned against President Wade's controversial third-term bid. Opposition against the bid began in June 2011, when he a started constitutional amendments to realise his ambition. This latest protest was to condemn the Constitutional Council for clearing fourteen candidates - including President Wade - to contest the February 26 elections.

One of the disqualified aspirants, Youssou N'dour, an international pop star and Grammy award-winning singer, was prevented from visiting Tine by police.

MFWA's correspondent reported that journalists from Agence France Presse (AFP) and the privately-owned "Populaire" newspaper, along with members of the M23 Movement, were also assaulted by security forces in the early hours of that day at the Obélisque Square in Dakar.

This is not the first time that Tine, Secretary-General of Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme (RADDHO), a prominent Dakar-based human rights NGO, has been attacked over his opposition to President Wade's third-term bid. In June 2011, he was violently assaulted by supporters of the ruling Parti Démocratique Sénégalais (PDS) after a controversial constitutional amendment by President Wade was passed. Tine was injured and hospitalised for several days.

The correspondent said Tine is not deterred by the “inhuman conditions” he reports to have suffered while in detention and has vowed to continue the struggle until President Wade revokes his decision.

On January 30, two people were killed in similar protests in the north of the country. Despite the toll, protesters plan to continue their fight.

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