A top Senegalese official whose job is to settle conflicts has said the country is on a dangerous precipice after four days of protests left at least five young people dead.
Alioune Badara Cissé, known as the mediator of the republic, urged the authorities to stop threats and intimidation against protesters.
He also called for those on the streets to act peacefully and stop looting.
The unrest was triggered by the arrest of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko.
Mr Sonko appeared in court on Friday accused of disrupting public order. He also faces a rape allegation.
He denies the allegations and his supporters say the accusations are politically motivated.The protests have also been fuelled by economic inequalities and concerns over young people’s standard of living.
In a press conference on Sunday, Mr Cissé said the authorities “need to pause and speak with our youth” and warned that “we are on the verge of an apocalypse”.
His statement came a day after a teenager in the southern city of Diaobe became the fifth person known to have died in clashes with security forces in various parts of the country.
But the respected mediator is warning of much more turmoil ahead unless the government acts fast to address the deepening poverty and lack of job prospects for the youth, says BBC World Service Africa Editor Will Ross.