Senegal ex-president's homecoming delayed

2014-04-24 16:37
Father and son: Abdoulaye and Karim Wade. (AFP)

Father and son: Abdoulaye and Karim Wade. (AFP)

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Dakar - Senegal's exiled former president Abdoulaye Wade is to make his controversial homecoming two days later than planned, his party said, with supporters claiming he was deliberately held up en route.

Wade, aged 87, who held power from 2000 to 2012, was expected in Dakar on Wednesday for his first trip back to the west African nation since he moved to France after a bitter election defeat to arch rival and current leader Macky Sall.

His flight was grounded in Casablanca, however, and he is delaying his return until Friday, the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) said late Wednesday, "to allow all those who wish to come to welcome him in greater numbers and with even more enthusiasm" and avoid any reason to deny him entry to Senegal.

The government denied that it had been involved in the delay, pointing to a last minute change in the flight plan requiring new landing authorisation and accusing Wade of playing politics.

But the PDS rejected the explanation, saying it was "as bizarre as it is contrary to the truth".

"This is particularly serious. It tarnishes the image of our country around the world, undermines our democracy and is a manifestation of the will of Macky Sall to transform our democracy into an authoritarian system," the party said in a statement.

Wealth and corruption

Wade's attempt to extend his mandate in 2012 sparked widespread unrest across Senegal, with violent and at times deadly demonstrations in Dakar plaguing the run-up to the election.

The country's new authorities have gone after his son Karim, accusing him of using corrupt means to acquire a fortune of 117bn CFA francs when he was a so-called "super minister" in his father's cabinet.

Karim Wade, aged 45, whose wealth includes land in Dakar, a fleet of luxury cars and media and finance companies operating across Africa, has been on remand in Dakar for a year and is due to be tried in June.

The elder Wade, who has been living in self-imposed exile in the French town of Versailles, has scrapped several planned homecomings in the past.

The former head of state had been expected to begin a PR offensive in support of his son soon after his arrival, with a party rally and march.

In an interview on Monday with French daily newspaper Le Monde, Wade said his successor's government was waging a "witch hunt" against him and his allies.

 

Read more on:    karim wade  |  abdoulaye wade  |  senegal
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