Senegal police have arrested a well-known rapper who is also a pro-democracy activist and an outspoken critic of President Abdoulaye Wade.
Young fans of Senegalese rapper Omar Toure, known as Thiat and part of the Keurgui 2 Kaolack rap group, protested his arrest outside the main courthouse in Dakar, Senegal’s capital, on Tuesday.
Police have not given reasons for Toure’s arrest, but on Saturday he spoke at an opposition rally in Dakar attended by thousands, the BBC reports. At the rally, he urged Wade not to run for re-election in 2012, called for his resignation, saying voters do not want “a president that is a liar,” the Associated Press reports.
Toure’s arrest is the latest sign of growing intimidation of government critics in Senegal in the lead up to elections next year, the BBC says.
Senegalese musicians have played an influential role in leading mass protests calling for the resignation of Wade, the country’s aging president who took power in elections 11 years ago.
In January, Toure helped launch "Y’en a Marre," slang for "Enough is Enough," a movement led by young rappers that encourages young people to register for the elections.
Last month, riots erupted in Dakar after Wade proposed to change the constitution and reduce the percentage of votes needed to win a presidential election - and avoid a run-off in elections scheduled for February 2012 - from more than 50 percent down to a 25 percent threshold.
The opposition says this would be unconstitutional and are demanding that he steps down.
Protests calling for Toure’s release continued Tuesday well late into the night, the New York Times reports.