I have for many weeks been intending to post something about the local elections which took place in Senegal in March. These were for city mayors, and were preceded for several weeks by floats for the candidates driving around the cities. The floats blare out loud music and are usually surrounded by people in party T-shirts who look too young to vote – I’m not really sure what they achieve but they cost the candidates lots of money.
One of the candidates for the biggest seat of all – mayor of Dakar – was Karim Wade, the son of the country’s president Abdoulaye Wade. The president has been trying to set up his son as his successor for quite some time, placing him into a series of plum jobs at which he never quite seems to succeed, and the Senegalese media are not impressed. This, however, was his chance to demonstrate his support from the people.
As did the president’s party in big towns up and down the country. The president said that the people had spoken and he was listening. “A triumph for democracy in Africa”, I thought.
Then this weekend I heard the latest news. Karim has been appointed as a senior minister (a cabinet member) in the government – Minister of State for International Cooperation, Urban and Regional Planning, Air Transport and Infrastructure – the largest ministry in Senegal since independence. Oh dear.