In Senegal, Karim Wade has not announced his candidacy for the presidency but he has already paid the deposit

The main person concerned has still not spoken, but the deposit, Monday, November 27, of Karim Wade's deposit to be a presidential candidate, scheduled for February 2024, by the executives of his party had the appearance of a campaign caravan before the hour

In Senegal, Karim Wade has not announced his candidacy for the presidency but he has already paid the deposit

The main person concerned has still not spoken, but the deposit, Monday, November 27, of Karim Wade's deposit to be a presidential candidate, scheduled for February 2024, by the executives of his party had the appearance of a campaign caravan before the hour. By completing this first formality, the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) briefly drew attention to itself in political news dominated by the rivalry between the ruling coalition and Pastef, Ousmane Sonko's party, dissolved on July 31 by the State, three days after the arrest of the main Senegalese opponent.

The 45,000 euros were paid to the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations de l'Etat du Senegal as a first step: "Karim Wade is our one and only candidate", insists the PDS. “The party is proceeding in stages, but he will be a candidate,” promises one of his close friends. The former minister of international cooperation, air transport, infrastructure and energy between 2009 and 2012, appointed by his father, President Abdoulaye Wade, was sentenced in 2015 to six years in prison for illicit enrichment. His trial, staged as a “clean hands” operation, had kept Senegal in suspense. But, after three years of imprisonment, President Macky Sall pardoned him and Karim Wade immediately flew to Qatar, where he has resided since 2016. If he had tried, in 2019, to run for president, the Constitutional Council rejected his candidacy.

The political context has since radically changed for the son of Abdoulaye Wade, put back in the presidential race by a reform of the electoral code resulting from the political dialogue convened in June by the head of state. As a bonus, the man whom his detractors nicknamed during his omnipotence “the minister of heaven and earth” obtained his revenge on the Court for the Repression of Illicit Enrichment (CREI). The special jurisdiction which had sentenced him was repealed on July 20 and then replaced by a financial judicial center.

Fine of 138 billion CFA francs

Now the question of his return arises. “Soon,” the PDS leaders interviewed responded in unison, without putting forward a date. Karim Wade, now 55, has never returned to Senegal since his departure for Qatar and his absence three months before the election is difficult to understand by many Senegalese. Is it to obtain “additional legal guarantees from Macky Sall? », asks political analyst Momar Diongue.

The court decision rendered by the CREI against Karim Wade also included a still unpaid fine of 138 billion CFA francs (209 million euros). In 2019, the Constitutional Council did not make this a reason for invalidating his candidacy, but the government did not hesitate to brandish this financial sanction as a threat of new legal troubles that could await Karim Wade upon his return. . Questioned by France 24 in 2018, Macky Sall himself recalled at the time that Karim Wade, although pardoned, was not for all that absolved of the fine.

“The State can always use this binding procedure against Karim Wade to recover its dues from the Public Treasury,” explains Me El-Amath Thiam, specialist in business litigation. The lawyer emphasizes, however, that if possible incarceration could be requested by the prosecution upon the person concerned's return to Dakar, this would be out of step with the climate of political appeasement between the government and the PDS.

Tafsir Thioye, the PDS spokesperson, claims that the issue, which “was not even discussed internally”, was resolved during the political dialogue. “He is ready, no more obstacles stand against his candidacy,” he says. “We are preparing his return and Karim Wade is focusing on preparing the program that he will submit to the Senegalese,” adds parliamentarian Mame Diarra Fam.

“Triumphant dynamics”

Although he has only addressed the Senegalese through press releases, Karim Wade, who now occupies the position of deputy secretary general in his party responsible for developing political strategies, remains very involved in the internal management of the party. and does not hesitate to call former major figures of the PDS to convince them to participate in the “gnibissi” (return) operation. Some defectors, ex-ministers or local elected officials, have already responded favorably to his approach.

“We wanted all those who had left to return through this initiative launched by Karim and President Wade,” explains Tafsir Thioye. At 97, the former head of state, heavily criticized for wanting to transfer power to his son, is discreet in his Dakar residence, but “nothing happens without him being aware,” confides the party spokesperson.

If Karim Wade does not have the political weight of his father and his base in public opinion remains to be demonstrated, a return “as late as possible to ride a triumphant dynamic” is not absurd, according to Momar Diongue. “It’s even a way to take care of yourself and avoid being questioned on embarrassing questions,” he says. In Senegal, opinion is still divided between those who consider that Karim Wade was the victim of a witch hunt and those who judge that the son of the former president benefits from preferential treatment for political reasons.