afrol News, 13 July - The son of Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, Transport Minister Karim Wade, has denied the growing rumour he has ambitions to succeed his father in the presidency. But the debate continues.
The Senegalese public and media have followed the career of Karim Wade closely since he was appointed an advisor to his father in 2001, one year after the latter won the elections and took over as President of Senegal.
Karim soon went on to a junior minister position in Dakar's changing governments. He ended up with a giant conglomerate ministry in 2009, carrying the title "Minister of State for International Cooperation, Urban and Regional Planning, Air Transport, and Infrastructure." He is presiding over one of the country's greatest budget posts.
Since then, not only Senegalese nationals were speculating what would be in next for Mr Wade jr. Even French diplomats openly have warned about monarchic tendencies in Senegal, seeing Karim as a potential candidate in the 2012 presidential elections.
Aging President Wade is not expected to stand candidate in 2012, and his son is also observed gaining a stronger position in Senegal's ruling party.
But the President's son has struggled with popularity. His so far only popular test as candidate in the 2009 municipal elections in Dakar ended up in a massive victory for the opposition.
Born and raised in Paris by a French mother and married to a French woman (who died in 2009), 42-year-old Karim is often seen as a foreigner or at least elitist in Senegal. But his French background also has taught him some lessons on democracy.
In an interview with an American media, Karim Wade this week strongly denied he or his father had any intentions of making "a monarchical devolution of power," which would be un-Senegalese. He emphasised that, also in Senegal, "power is not inherited, it is deserved."
Therefore, he said, "anyone who wants access to the highest office must travel around the country to present his project and vision of Senegal, and then the Senegalese freely and transparently will decide to trust in him or not." Karim Wade did however not state he would not stand candidate in such an election.
The statements made a good impression of Senegal and Senegalese politics abroad. But in Senegal, where the statements were widely published today, they did not put an end to speculations. Rather the opposite.
The conservative independent daily 'Walf Fadjri' concluded it still "remains to be proven" whether President Wade and his son were not seeking "monarchical power" in Senegal.
In its weekly magazine Grand Place', the 'Walf' newspaper goes even further, emphasising that Karim had not said a word to deny rumours he would stand candidate in 2012. The message could rather be read in a way saying the Senegalese should "be glad he does not expect to automatically inherit power from his father."
Several other Senegalese newspapers directly or indirectly thanked the President's son for letting the cat out of the sack. His statements to a US media have made it easier for serious Senegalese media to openly discuss the succession rumours, which surely will dominate the political debate until the 2012 poll.
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