Monday, February 13, 2012

Abdoulaye Wade

Abdoulaye Wade (born ca. May 29, 1926) is the third and current President of Senegal, in office since 2000. He is also the Secretary-General of the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) and has led the party since it was founded in 1974. A long-time opposition leader, he ran for President four times, beginning in 1978, before he was elected in 2000.

Life Before Politics
Wade was born in Kébémer, Senegal; officially, he was born in 1926, although some claim he was born several years earlier, and the record-keeping of the time is not considered particularly reliable. He studied and taught law at the lycée Condorcet in France. He holds two doctorates in law and economics. He was also dean of the law and economics faculty at the University of Dakar in Senegal. He is married to Viviane Wade. Their son, Karim Wade, is the former head of the national agency of the Islamic Organization Conference and has served since May 2009 as the Minister of State for International Cooperation, Urban and Regional Planning, Air Transport, and Infrastructure. Their daughter, Sindjely Wade, is a Special Assistant to the President who has participated in many Paris-Dakar rallies.

Wade's presidency has been marred by allegations of corruption, nepotism and constraints on freedom of the press and other civil liberties.

He has also been criticized for excessive spending on what have been described as "prestige projects". This includes commissioning a 160+ foot bronze statue (the African Renaissance Monument), for which Wade claims he is entitled to 35% of all tourist profits it generates because of the intellectual property for conceiving the idea.

In a parallel controversy, Wade has been criticized by Christian bishops in Senegal for publicly denying the divinity of Jesus Christ, comparing him to the statues found in the African Renaissance Monument, after local imams expressed their opposition to the monument. He later regretted that his comments had caused religious offense to Christians.

Wade also received criticism in 2009 for a "goodbye present" he reportedly gave to a departing IMF official after the two had had dinner. The present turned out to be a bag of money worth almost US$200,000. Widespread speculation and criticism have centered on the possibility that Wade is grooming his son Karim to succeed him.

There have also been reports that Wade was a Freemason.

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