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Former Senegalese PM Questioned on Money Laundering Charge

Senegal's former prime minister has surrendered his passport to police after being questioned on charges of taking part in a money laundering scheme with an unnamed African head of state. Macky Sall denies the charges, which his opposition party says are meant to silence political challengers weeks before local government elections.

The former prime minister was summoned to police headquarters and questioned for several hours before being allowed to return home after surrendering his passport.

Hundreds cheer Sall outside police headquarters

Hundreds of opposition supporters cheered Sall outside police headquarters late Tuesday, chanting his name and denouncing President Abdoulaye Wade's ruling party. Police fired tear gas, but there were no arrests.

Sall appealed for calm from his supporters and all Senegalese, who he said are indignant about the way the country is being run.

Senegal's Interior Ministry says investigators have intercepted mail between Sall and an unnamed African head of state indicating that they were part of a scheme to launder money belonging to a Gabon-based Senegalese businessman, who is already under arrest.

In a statement announcing the charges, Interior Minister Cheikh Tidiane Sy says the investigation into their alleged illicit operation continues.

Opposition leader directed president's 2007 re-election campaign

Sall's lawyers say the fraud charges against the former head of the national assembly are without merit. They say the allegations are meant to intimidate political opponents weeks before local government elections.

Sall had previously served as President Wade's energy minister and interior minister as well as government spokesman and director of the president's 2007 re-election campaign.

But the two men split after Sall called the president's son Karim before a legislative hearing asking for an audit of his spending on last year's Organization of the Islamic Conference summit in Dakar.

Sall now heads the opposition Alliance for the Republic party. Karim Wade is a ruling-party candidate for mayor of the capital city in March elections.