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DAKAR – Senegalese authorities on Wednesday blocked access to social media app TikTok, widening a clampdown on dissent days after they dissolved the main opposition party and detained its leader.

A power struggle between Pastef party leader Ousmane Sonko and President Macky Sall has led to violent demonstrations at times, most recently on Monday, and damaged Senegal’s reputation as the most stable democracy in West Africa.

There has been a wave of military coups in the region during the last three years, including Niger a week ago.

Senegal dissolved Pastef and restricted access to Internet services on Monday, citing threats to the stability of the country. Its communications minister used a similar justification to block TikTok.

“The TikTok application is the social network favoured by people with bad intentions to spread hateful and subversive messages,” Mr Moussa Bocar Thiam said in a statement on Wednesday.

Dakar resident Abdou Dione said the state should not suspend TikTok based solely on negative aspects.

“It’s an application where you can also learn a lot, and not just see vulgar things,” Mr Dione said.

Young street vendors are using applications like WhatsApp as part of their online sales, Mr Papis Gaye said.

“So taking the decision to cut off the Internet means prohibiting us from selling,” Mr Gaye said.

“I’d have to try the VPN, just to be able to connect, but it’s a pain. In the end, you’re tired and discouraged.”

Another Dakar resident, Mr Makhtar Ndiaga Sarr, said he failed to buy shoes on Tuesday because the Internet was not working and his brother could not send him the money for the purchase.

Accusations of inciting violence

Mr Sonko was charged on Saturday with plotting an insurrection and other offences, and taken into custody.

Opposition supporters, who have held protests throughout the year, accuse Mr Sall of levelling charges in order to disqualify Mr Sonko from a presidential election due next year.

The government denies this and blames Mr Sonko and Pastef for stoking violence. Senegal blocks TikTok in widening clampdown on dissent

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