Abdoulaye Wade
Abdoulaye Wade is the third and current President of Senegal
Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...

, in office since 2000. He is also the Secretary-General of the Senegalese Democratic Party
Senegalese Democratic Party
The Senegalese Democratic Party is a political party in Senegal. The party considers itself a liberal party and is a member of the Liberal International. Abdoulaye Wade, Senegal's president, is the party's leader...

 (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
Lycée Condorcet
The Lycée Condorcet is a school founded in 1803 in Paris, France, located at 8, rue du Havre, in the city's IXe arrondissement. Since its inception, various political eras have seen it given a number of different names, but its identity today honors the memory of the Marquis de Condorcet. The...

 in France. He holds two doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

s 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
Karim Wade
Karim Wade is a Senegalese politician who has served in the government of Senegal as Minister of State for International Cooperation, Regional Development, Air Transport, and Infrastructure since May 2009. He is the son of Abdoulaye Wade, the President of Senegal...

, 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.

Political career

At a summit of the Organization of African Unity in Mogadishu
Mogadishu , popularly known as Xamar, is the largest city in Somalia and the nation's capital. Located in the coastal Benadir region on the Indian Ocean, the city has served as an important port for centuries....

 in 1974, Wade told President Léopold Sédar Senghor
Léopold Sédar Senghor
Léopold Sédar Senghor was a Senegalese poet, politician, and cultural theorist who for two decades served as the first president of Senegal . Senghor was the first African elected as a member of the Académie française. Before independence, he founded the political party called the Senegalese...

 that he wanted to start a new party, and Senghor agreed to this. The PDS was founded on 31 July 1974. The party—initially intended as a Labour party—adopted liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 in 1976 due to the introduction of a law permitting the existence of only three parties with three distinct ideologies, two of which were taken by other parties (liberalism was therefore the only remaining option). Wade first ran for President in February 1978 against Senghor, taking 17.38% of the vote. Senghor gave Wade the nickname "Diombor" (Wolof for hare
Hares and jackrabbits are leporids belonging to the genus Lepus. Hares less than one year old are called leverets. Four species commonly known as types of hare are classified outside of Lepus: the hispid hare , and three species known as red rock hares .Hares are very fast-moving...

). Also in 1978, Wade was elected to the National Assembly
National Assembly of Senegal
The National Assembly of Senegal is the lower house of Senegal's parliament.-The current National Assembly:The current National Assembly, formed following elections held on 29 April 2001, has a total of 150 elected members who serve five-year terms. The electoral system is a mixed member...

, where he served until 1980. Subsequently he ran in the presidential elections of 1983 and 1988, taking second place each time, behind Senghor's successor Abdou Diouf
Abdou Diouf
Abdou Diouf was the second President of Senegal, serving from 1981 to 2000. Diouf is notable both for coming to power by peaceful succession, and leaving willingly after losing the 2000 presidential election to Abdoulaye Wade...

. Following the 1988 election, he was arrested due to protests against the results and received a suspended sentence. Subsequently he went to France, but returned in 1990.

In April 1991, Wade and four other PDS members joined a national unity government together with the ruling Socialist Party
Socialist Party of Senegal
The Socialist Party of Senegal is a political party in Senegal. It was the ruling party in Senegal from independence in 1960 until 2000. Ousmane Tanor Dieng has been the First Secretary of the party since 1996...

 (PS); Wade became Minister of State without portfolio. In October 1992, he and the other PDS ministers quit the government due to complaints about the manner in which the PS was said to control the government. In the February 1993 presidential election
Senegalese presidential election, 1993
Presidential elections were held in Senegal on 21 February 1993. Incumbent President Abdou Diouf of the Socialist Party defeated seven other candidates, winning 58.4% of the vote. Voter turnout was 51.5%.-Results:...

, Wade again took second place, with 32% of the vote, behind Diouf, who won with 58%. Following the May 1993 killing of Constitutional Council Vice-President Babacar Sèye, Wade, along with other PDS leaders, faced police questioning. On October 1, Wade, his wife, and two PDS members of the National Assembly (Abdoulaye Faye and Ousmane Ngom
Ousmane Ngom
Ousmane Alioune Ngom is a Senegalese politician, serving in the government of Senegal as Minister of State for the Interior since September 2010. As a leading member of the Senegalese Democratic Party , Ngom served as a minister in national unity governments from 1991 to 1992 and from 1995 to 1998...

), were charged with complicity in the murder, although they were not held in custody or put on trial. Following riots in February 1994, Wade was arrested along with many others for allegedly threatening state security. The charge of complicity in Sèye's murder was dismissed in May 1994, and Wade and his co-defendants began a hunger strike on June 30. He and his co-defendants were released on July 4, and the remaining charges were dismissed on August 30, 1994.

Wade rejoined the government as Minister of State in March 1995, but he and the other PDS ministers left again in March 1998. Although he was elected to the National Assembly in the February 1998 parliamentary election
Senegalese parliamentary election, 1998
Parliamentary elections were held in Senegal on 24 May 1998. The result was a victory for the ruling Socialist Party, which won 93 of the 140 seats...

, he announced his resignation from the National Assembly in late July 1998, saying that there were "enough deputies to do the job in my place".

2000 election and first term

Wade subsequently spent a year in France, returning to Senegal on October 27, 1999. In the first round of the 2000 presidential election
Senegalese presidential election, 2000
Presidential elections were held in Senegal on 27 February 2000, with a second round taking place on 19 March after no candidate won over 50% of votes in the first round...

, held on February 27, he again took second place, receiving 31% of the vote, but for the first time, Diouf did not win a first round majority, and consequently a second round was held on March 19. Wade won this round with 58.49% of the vote, having received the support of candidates from the first round, including third place candidate Moustapha Niasse
Moustapha Niasse
Moustapha Niasse is a Senegalese politician and diplomat. He served in the government of Senegal as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1978 to 1984 and again from 1993 to 1998. He was Prime Minister of Senegal for a few weeks in 1983, and he held that position again from 2000 to 2001.-Political...

. Wade became President on April 1, 2000 and appointed Niasse as his Prime Minister shortly afterwards. Wade initially cohabited
Cohabitation (government)
Cohabitation in government occurs in semi-presidential systems, such as France's system, when the President is from a different political party than the majority of the members of parliament. It occurs because such a system forces the president to name a premier that will be acceptable to the...

 with the PS, which held a majority in the legislature until the PDS and its allies (the Sopi Coalition
Sopi Coalition
The Sopi Coalition is the governing political alliance in Senegal. The alliance is composed of the Senegalese Democratic Party and smaller parties, and it supports President Abdoulaye Wade, who is also the Secretary-General of the PDS.In the April 2001 parliamentary election, the Sopi Coalition...

) won a majority in the April 2001 parliamentary election
Senegalese parliamentary election, 2001
An election for the National Assembly of Senegal was held on 29 April 2001. The election was held under the new constitution approved by referendum earlier in the year...


A new constitution was adopted in 2001, reducing presidential terms to five years following the completion of Wade's seven-year term in 2007.

2007 election and second term

On October 15, 2006, Wade was nominated as presidential candidate of the PDS for the February 2007 presidential election
Senegalese presidential election, 2007
A presidential election was held in Senegal on 25 February 2007. The incumbent president, Abdoulaye Wade, who was first elected in 2000, won the election in the first round with almost 56% of the vote.-Date of the election:...

. One of Wade's opponents in this election was his former prime minister Idrissa Seck
Idrissa Seck
Idrissa Seck is a Senegalese politician who was Prime Minister of Senegal from November 2002 to April 2004. He was a leading member of the Senegalese Democratic Party and was considered a protégé of President Abdoulaye Wade, but he subsequently went into opposition and was a candidate in the...

, who was once considered Wade's protégé, but was arrested in 2005. Final results released on March 11, 2007, showed Wade winning in the first round with 55.9% of the vote, far ahead of his nearest opponents, Seck with about 15% and Socialist Party leader Ousmane Tanor Dieng
Ousmane Tanor Dieng
Ousmane Tanor Dieng is the First Secretary of the Socialist Party of Senegal. He has been vice-president of the Socialist International since 1996.-Background and early life:...

 with about 13.6%. Dieng and another opposition candidate, Abdoulaye Bathily
Abdoulaye Bathily
Abdoulaye Bathily is a Senegalese politician and the Secretary-General of the Democratic League/Movement for the Labour Party .-Biography:Bathily was born in Tiyabu in Bakel Department...

, filed appeals regarding the election, but these were rejected by the Constitutional Council. Wade was sworn in for his second term on April 3 at the Leopold Sedar Senghor Stadium in Dakar, with many African leaders and about 60,000 spectators in attendance.

The main opposition parties did not accept Wade's 2007 victory and disputed his legitimacy as President; they boycotted elections to the National Assembly
Senegalese parliamentary election, 2007
Parliamentary elections were held in Senegal on 3 June 2007. They had originally been planned to be held together with the presidential election on 25 February 2007, but were postponed. 14 parties or coalitions participated in the election, in which the composition of the National Assembly, with...

 and the re-established Senate
Senegalese Senate election, 2007
Indirect Senate elections were held in Senegal on 19 August 2007. Over 13,000 MPs, local and municipal councillors were eligible to vote in this election, in which 35 of the Senate's 100 members were chosen across the country's 35 districts; President Abdoulaye Wade nominated the other 65...

 later in the year. Wade conclusively stated in an interview published by Le Soleil on May 19, 2008 that there was no longer any possibility of dialogue with the opposition unless it recognized him as the legitimate President. "Let them do what they want, it doesn't bother me," he said of the opposition, "so long as they respect law and order."

At the July 2007 African Union
African Union
The African Union is a union consisting of 54 African states. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established on 9 July 2002, the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity...

 summit in Accra
Accra is the capital and largest city of Ghana, with an urban population of 1,658,937 according to the 2000 census. Accra is also the capital of the Greater Accra Region and of the Accra Metropolitan District, with which it is coterminous...

, Ghana
Ghana , officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located in West Africa. It is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south...

, Wade supported quick formation of the proposed United States of Africa
United States of Africa
The United States of Africa is a proposed name for the concept of a federation of some or all of the 55 sovereign states of Africa.Former Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, who was the 2009 Chairperson of the African Union , advanced the idea of a United States of Africa at two regional African...

 and said: "If we fail to unite, we will become weak, and if we live isolated in countries that are divided, we face the risk of collapsing in the face of stronger and united economies."

2012 election for third term

In July 2008, the National Assembly approved a constitutional amendment increasing the length of the presidential term to seven years, as it was prior to the adoption of the 2001 constitution. This extension would not apply to Wade's 2007–2012 term, but Minister of Justice Madické Niang stressed on this occasion that Wade could potentially run for re-election in 2012 if he was still healthy. Later, on September 17, 2009, Wade confirmed that he planned to run for a third term in 2012 "if God gives me a long life". Wade, during a 14 July 2011 speech to supporters, used the Wolof language
Wolof language
Wolof is a language spoken in Senegal, The Gambia, and Mauritania, and is the native language of the Wolof people. Like the neighbouring languages Serer and Fula, it belongs to the Atlantic branch of the Niger–Congo language family...

 “‘’Ma waxoon waxeet’’” (“‘’I said it, I (can) take it back’’”) in explaining his decision to go back on his 2007 pledge not to run for another term. The phrase has since become a popular rallying cry for the anti-Wade opposition.


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
African Renaissance Monument
The African Renaissance Monument is a 49m tall bronze statue located on top one of the twin hills known as Collines des Mamelles, outside of Dakar, Senegal. Built overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in the Ouakam suburb, the statue was designed by the Senegalese architect Pierre Goudiaby after an idea...

), 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
Karim Wade
Karim Wade is a Senegalese politician who has served in the government of Senegal as Minister of State for International Cooperation, Regional Development, Air Transport, and Infrastructure since May 2009. He is the son of Abdoulaye Wade, the President of Senegal...

 to succeed him.

There have also been allegations that Wade had been involved in Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

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