Ousmane Sonko was charge with rape by a judge in Senegal. According to report, he was released on bail today after days of deadly protests sparked by his arrest last week.
“Mr Sonko, 46, is accused of assaulting a woman who worked in a beauty salon.
He says the case is politically motivated to stop him running again in elections in 2024. He came third in the 2019 poll with 16% of the vote.
Demonstrators scuffled with security forces outside court in the capital, Dakar, before Monday’s hearing.
Police have deployed armoured cars in the city in the wake of several days of clashes in which at least eight people were killed, including a teenager in the southern town of Diaobé – the most serious violence Senegal has seen for several years.
Tear gas was also fired at protesters in central Dakar on Monday, after they pelted officers with stones.
Mr Sonko is popular among young Senegalese, and an opposition collective known as the Movement for the Defence of Democracy has called for three days of mass protests, starting on Monday.
On Sunday a top Senegalese official whose job is to settle conflicts, Alioune Badara Cissé, said the authorities “need to pause and speak with our youth” and warned that “we are on the verge of an apocalypse”.
A 46-year-old former tax inspector, he was fired in 2016 after making allegations of tax anomalies against the president’s brother, Aliou Sall.
Mr Sonko had at that point already become involved in politics, forming his Pastef party in 2014.
His parliamentary immunity was removed last week, after he was accused of rape.