Senegal prohibits rally to welcome back ex-leader
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Senegal’s former president was preparing a triumphant return home after nearly two years abroad following electoral defeat, but on Tuesday night authorities ordered that a rally to welcome him be canceled.
In a letter to the leaders of the Senegalese Democratic Party, authorities in the capital of Dakar warned that their planned march on Wednesday from the airport into town would disrupt traffic and that the rally might be infiltrated by “individuals with bad intentions.”
The party had planned to fete its founder Abdoulaye Wade, who was voted out of office two years ago after a bitter and violent electoral campaign.
Wade had once been held up as a rare African democrat, but that reputation crumbled in the months before the 2012 elections. He was criticized for giving increasing power to his son and even trying to anoint him his heir. When Wade decided to flout term limits and seek a third term, protesters calling for him to step down paralyzed Dakar for weeks.
In the end, President Macky Sall trounced Wade in a runoff, and Wade accepted defeat and withdrew abroad.
But in an interview this week in French newspaper Le Monde, the 87-year-old said he needed to return to Senegal because of widespread discontent.
Sall has struggled to address high unemployment and a rising cost of living in the West African nation.
Wade is also returning as his son, Karim Wade, faces a trial on charges of illicit enrichment following an investigation into how he amassed a multimillion-dollar fortune.
In the Le Monde interview, Wade dismissed the charges against his son as politically motivated.
Mayoro Faye, an official with the Senegalese Democratic Party, called the order to cancel the rally as “anti-democratic.”