Tear gas, rubble on the road, and tyres on fire: Dakar saw clashes between protesters and security forces on Thursday (Mar. 16).

Young Senegalese demonstrators faced police in riot gear as the trial of the main opposition figure Ousmane Sonko got underway.

For weeks, activists and members of the opposition have denounced “a retreat from democracy” in the country.

“No one agrees with the way those in charge are governing the country,” a teacher said. “No one. There is bad governance. There is injustice. Everyone, can see it with the naked eye. You don’t need a microscope. You can see. So that’s it. So that’s it. So that’s why we’re fighting and we’re willing to give up our lives.”

On Thursday morning, Ousmane Sonko was forcibly removed from his vehicle by gendarmes on his way to court. He’s been accused of slander by Tourism Minister Mame Mbaye Niang, a member of Sall’s party, after accusing him of being criticised by state inspectors for his handling of a rural unemployment scheme.