Outcry after Senegal's president buys new plane
Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade's purchase of a 32-million-euro (43 million dollar) airplane from French President Nicolas Sarkozy triggered an uproar Friday in the poor country.
The French presidency announced that the 30-seater Airbus 319, one of two planes belonging to Sarkozy that were put out of service on Thursday, was bought by Senegal.
"Wade buys Sarkozy's airplane for 20 billion" -- referring to CFA francs -- read the headline of the private daily newspaper Le Populaire.
"I am shocked. We cannot understand that in the difficult social context faced by the Senegalese, we can allow this expense which is neither relevant nor a priority," an opposition leader Helene Tine told AFP.
"It is a crime against the people of Senegal. People who make such expenditures are mentally unbalanced."
Another leading opposition member Ibrahima Sene said this was "an expense that is not authorised in the 2009 budget nor that of 2010."
"It is illegal. The Senegalese must mobilise to demand the cancellation of this purchase."
Since Thursday, the Senegalese presidency has brushed off efforts to obtain comments on the purchase.
Many citizens interviewed by private radio stations on Friday denounced the purchase of the new aircraft, saying it was not a priority.
Wade, 84, who has been in power since 2000, stopped using his private plane following a forced emergency landing in Spain after a window in the cockpit cracked.
Since then he has rented planes to carry out his regular travels abroad.
© 2010 AFP