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IMF Scandal Continues to Spark Protest In Senegal

IMF Scandal Continues to Spark Protest In Senegal

IMF Scandal Continues to Spark Protest In Senegal

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At an opposition protest Friday in Dakar, thousands demanded the resignation of Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, whose admission of having given money to a departing IMF official has sparked indignation and accusations of corruption.

That is the sound of thousands of people, primarily youth, demanding the resignation of Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade at an opposition protest Friday in Dakar. They are saying: "Na dema dema dem. We don't want you anymore. Just go."

A young man drew cheers as he arrived carrying above his head a gray suitcase bearing the name of Alex Segura, the former IMF representative to Senegal.

Last month, Senegal's government admitted it had given almost $200,000 to Segura before he left the country in late September as what it called a "traditional African farewell gift". The IMF has returned the money, and the government has denied allegations of corruption.

Still, the incident has provoked outrage in Senegal and demands for an independent investigation. Opposition members have denounced it as attempted corruption that shows the true nature of Mr. Wade's government.

In a written statement at the end of October, Mr. Wade admitted he authorized the gift without specifying an amount. He said his top aide then made a mistake about the sum. The government has said the money can not be viewed as a bribe since Segura was leaving the country definitively, and Mr. Wade called allegations of corruption "nonsense."

At the protest Friday, opposition leader Ndeye Fatou Toure, from the Movement Tekki, called the Segura affair a humiliation.

Toure says that Senegalese, both inside and outside the country, are outraged and shocked by the behavior of those in power. She says that is what brought them out for this march and they must crack down on this behavior.

Yet, organizers of the march said the Segura affair, though a catalyst for the demonstration, was not the only reason they were demanding the president's departure.

Young people carried signs denouncing other issues like the high cost of living, changes to the country's constitution and youth unemployment.

Abdou Mbow, a former youth spokesman for the Wade party who is now with the opposition, said the people feel betrayed by Mr. Wade, who came to power in 2000 on a platform of change.

Mbow says that people are out in the streets today to show that they are fed up. He says life is expensive and things are difficult in Senegal right now. He says they have had it with the corruption in Mr. Wade's government and are therefore demanding that he resign.

The march was organized by Bennoo Siggil Senegaal, the country's chief opposition coalition that claimed victory over Mr. Wade's ruling Sopi coalition in the country's local elections in March.