Presidential election in Senegal: the nationality of Karim Wade continues to be controversial

By publishing on social networks, Wednesday January 17, the decree renouncing his French nationality, Karim Wade hoped to put an end to “a false, sterile and dangerous controversy”

Presidential election in Senegal: the nationality of Karim Wade continues to be controversial

By publishing on social networks, Wednesday January 17, the decree renouncing his French nationality, Karim Wade hoped to put an end to “a false, sterile and dangerous controversy”. Unfortunately for the candidate of the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) in the February presidential election, born in Paris to a French mother, the controversy continues to swell. Pattern ? As of December 26, the day applications closed, Karim Wade still benefited from French nationality, since he only officially lost it on January 16, the date of publication of the decree in the Official Journal.

“Rather than reinforcing it, this document confuses and undermines it,” insists Thierno Alassane Sall, head of the Republic of Values, in a press release published on the social network X (formerly Twitter). This former minister of Macky Sall, who had seized the Constitutional Council on Tuesday to denounce the dual nationality of Karim Wade, now accuses one of his possible rivals in the election of having twice been guilty of "act of perjury.” Candidate for the 2019 presidential election, the son of former president Abdoulaye Wade had in fact announced that he had abandoned his dual nationality in 2018, a sine qua non condition for claiming to lead Senegal.

“As the decree of January 16, 2024 of the French State cannot have retroactive effects, it remains constant that Karim Wade was retained on the provisional list without fulfilling a major requirement arising from the Constitution. If he had revealed to the Constitutional Council the reality on that date of his dual nationality, as required by the declaration on his honor, he would not have been included in the provisional list,” declares Thierno Alassane Sall, while the judges are currently examining the 21 applications selected following the sponsorship check. They have until January 20 to validate them or not.

Exiled in Qatar since June 2016, a year after his sentence in 2015 to six years in prison for illicit enrichment, Karim Wade, former minister of international cooperation, territorial planning, air transport and infrastructure, is now portrayed by his rivals as “France’s candidate”. Without providing proof, they suspect him of having benefited from an accelerated procedure from the French authorities and accuse Paris of having “tried to save him”.

" Hard blow "

Unjustified attacks, believes those around him. “Karim never voted in France and voluntarily refused, when he was in prison, to place himself under the diplomatic umbrella of France. If his application is rejected, it will be a hard blow for him, because he will still have renounced his mother's nationality,” laments a relative.

At a time when France is facing deep mistrust in its former African colonies, the Wade affair is causing embarrassment on the side of Paris. Asked by Le Monde about the date of submission of the file, the Ministry of the Interior prefers “not to comment”. Under condition of anonymity, a source at Place Beauvau assures, however, that there was no “preferential treatment”. “A request for release from the bonds of French allegiance is faster than a request for naturalization. Above all, we must ensure that the applicant does not become stateless,” specifies the same source without giving the date of submission of the application.

“In general, the investigation of a request for release from ties of allegiance to France lasts between six and eight months on average before publication of the decree,” indicates Grégoire Hervet, lawyer in foreigners’ rights. For people established abroad, like Mr. Wade, you must gather a certain number of documents and then submit them to the consulate. But the procedure remains faster than an application for naturalization, which lasts between two and three years. »

The controversy over Karim Wade's dual nationality was launched on January 13 by a post on X by journalist Ayoba Faye, who, after consulting the government site service-public.fr, pointed out the presence of Karim Wade on the French electoral register. A registration sufficient to relaunch a debate already agitated in August by Moussa Diop, another member of the opposition – without having really attracted attention. It is now up to the Senegalese Constitutional Council to close the debate.