Wade denies grooming son for presidency
Paris - Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade denied on Thursday he was paving the way for his son Karim to succeed him but said he had the right to run for office.
"I have no intention of putting my son in my place before I go," Wade told Europe 1 radio.
"But he is a citizen of Senegal and he is free to stand in elections when he wants to," he said in Paris, where he attended Bastille Day celebrations alongside leaders of 12 other former French colonies in Africa.
Senegal's third president, the 84-year-old Wade has been in office since 2000 and announced last year that he planned to run again in 2012.
Opposition parties accuse him however of grooming his 41-year-old son, who was named minister in the government in May and is a close, influential advisor to his father, to "inherit" the presidency.
Wade said it was "offensive to the Senegalese people" to suggest that they would accept a situation where the president would "say: 'Now it's time for you to take my son'. This doesn't exist."
The opposition attack against Wade comes at a time of tensions between France and Senegal over the recent recall of French ambassador Jean-Christophe Rufin.
Rufin stepped down from his post two weeks ago after describing Wade's decision to run again as "odd" given his age and reportedly criticising a recent aid package to Senegal.
The ambassador had also said Karim Wade "seems unable to accept criticism ... or engage in dialogue".
Wade denied that there had been a clash with Rufin, who has since complained that French President Nicolas Sarkozy's inner circle has sidelined the foreign ministry on matters concerning Africa.