Thousands protested in the Senegalese capital Dakar Friday against President Macky Sall's refusal to rule out a controversial third term.

The demonstration was called by the "Movement of the living forces of Senegal F24" grouping, a reference to the February 24 2024 presidential vote.

The umbrella movement, a new collective of more than 170 political and rights organisations, aims to pressure Sall not to contest next year.

Tensions have been stoked by Sall's refusal to rule out running for a third term as president, a move his opponents say would be unconstitutional.

Many young demonstrators also told AFP they had come to support opposition politician Ousmane Sonko, who was recently sentenced to a six-month suspended prison sentence for defamation and insults against the tourism minister which threatens his eligibility to run for president,

On Tuesday, Sonko called on his supporters to take to the streets in protest against the court ruling, though he was not visible at Friday's demonstration.

Sonko is also facing trial later this month for alleged rape and death threats over a complaint filed by an employee at a beauty salon where he went for a massage.

He says he is the victim of a government plot to scupper his candidacy.

The demonstrators chanted "Sonko, our hope" and "Macky Sall dictator" as they gathered in a central square amid the sounds of whistles and horns.

Opposition leaders and influential members of organisations addressed the rally, calling on Sall to leave power and demanding the release of more than 300 "political detainees".

"We base our hope on Sonko despite the persecution," Babacar Toure, a shopkeeper in his 40s, told AFP.

Some speakers were booed by the crowd, because they were suspected of not putting their support behind Sonko clearly enough or early enough.