Son of Senegal ex-leader Wade 'to run for president'

Corruption-accused Karim Wade named as presidential candidate ahead of court ruling that could jail him for seven years.

    Karim Wade has been in detention since April 2013 over corruption charges [AFP]
    Karim Wade has been in detention since April 2013 over corruption charges [AFP]

    Senegal's main opposition party has chosen the son of a former Senegalese president as its candidate at the next presidential election, even though he is on trial for corruption.

    Karim Wade's nomination was confirmed on Saturday, just two days before Senegal's anti-corruption court was expected to deliver its verdict in the case against him on Monday.

    Wade faces seven years in prison for allegedly amassing a multi-million dollar fortune while serving as a minister under his father's rule.

    Karim Wade was nicknamed "the minister of the Earth and the sky" when his father, Abdoulaye Wade, was president from 2000 to 2012, reflecting his powerful position under his father's rule.

    Wade junior is alleged to have illegally acquired companies and real estate worth almost $240m, but he denies the charges and his supporters claim the case against him is politically motivated.

    'Transparency of the vote'

    Saturday's decision to nominate him was made at a party congress that was attended by 88-year-old Abdoulaye Wade, who is the secretary general of the opposition Democratic Party of Senegal (PDS).

    The former president later praised the transparency of the vote, saying it had been "conducted publicly in front of party activists and even the press".

    He said last month that he was prepared to "give his life" to prevent his son being convicted.

    "Karim Wade was chosen by 257 of the 268 delegates" to be the Democratic Party of Senegal's presidential candidate, leading party member Tafsir Thioye told the AFP news agency.

    The younger Wade, who has been in custody since April 2013 and on trial since July last year, beat at least seven other candidates to become the PDS's presidential hopeful.

    No date has yet been set for the upcoming election that is not due until 2017.

    Impact on the verdict

    "The fact of choosing Karim Wade is just a way of trying to have an impact on the (court) verdict," Babacar Justin Ndiaye, a political analyst, told the Reuters news agency.

    Tension has been mounting ahead of Monday's trial verdict, with local media reporting a heightened security presence in the capital Dakar.

    The country's main opposition coalition, which includes the PDS, on Friday urged sympathisers to rally at the court on Monday in a show of support for Karim Wade.

    Mamadou Diop Decroix, an opposition politician, said on Saturday that "if the country swings towards violence, it won't be the fault of the opposition but of those who put people in prison".

    Justice Minister Sidiki Kaba sought to calm tempers, saying the state would maintain public order.

    "Freedom of expression will be respected but within the context of the law. The decision that will be handed down by the court will be an independent one," he told the pro-government daily Le Soleil.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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