In Senegal, there is the crisis in Abdoulaye Wade’s Senegalese Democratic Party. The PDS has been torn apart since the presidential election in February 2019. The candidacy of Karim Wade, son of the former president, convicted of illicit enrichment and in exile in Qatar since 2016, had been contested. The party had therefore not presented a candidate. But this « Karim or nothing » strategy has deeply divided him. Oumar Sarr has long been number two in the squad. And other pillars of the Liberal party have left the ship. For Oumar Sarr, the PDS is now dead, and that because of Karim Wade. Oumar Sarr is the guest of Charlotte Idrac.
Rfi: Oumar Sarr, do you consider that you are still a member of the PDS?
Oumar Sarr: Yes, formally, I am a member of the PDS. But as you know, there was a circular note signed by President Wade saying that Oumar Sarr has self-excluded. Of course, we thought that this note was null and void, illegal in all respects. One person, the most important person, cannot strike someone from a party. You need authorities, you need structures … It’s the statutes that say it, it’s the internal regulations that say it. So I don’t know what world they are in. I still think they are walking on their heads For already more than a year, there has been no more management of the PDS who meets. The PDS is a bit lost in the waves.
In this note that you refer to, signed by Abdoulaye Wade, you are accused of « undermining the unity of the party » or « acts of defiance ». How did you react to this note?
It made me laugh first. I told myself that, really, these people no longer take themselves seriously. We assumed that it was Karim Wade who wrote it and that his father signed it. We have, of course, completely refuted this circular, illegal in all respects.
You mention Karim Wade. For you, is that him? Karim Wade, the basic problem of the PDS?
Yes, absolutely. In the 2019 presidential election, Karim Wade was our candidate. I still remember that he was in prison when we elected him. The PDS congress elected him a candidate. We fought, we released him. And then he kept running, knowing full well that he was never, ever going to come back to be a candidate. Myself, I have been appointed as campaign manager, supposedly. Campaign director for a fictitious candidate. He (Karim Wade) did not come and then it created a major party crisis. Because, if he knew from the start that he was not coming, we could have – we, inside the PDS – found an alternative solution. So he hid the truth from us, and he really manipulates his father. All the decisions that are made today by his father are actually pre-signed by Karim Wade.
Karim Wade remains silent. What do you think he wants?
In reality, I think he is more interested in business than in politics. Because he does not want an amnesty, as he says, he wants to resume his trial. If he’s a politician who wants to run in any election, amnesty is more than enough, but apparently he wants something else. He does not know how to do politics.
Besides, you don’t inherit a party like the PDS that has a history. The PDS has been in existence since 1974. You shouldn’t come like that and say: « My father is old, I’m replacing him » and create a kind of fan club Karim Wade – and say that this is the party. So we think what interests him, too, is to possibly take the PDS hostage and use it later on for business.
After the presidential election in February 2019, you participated in the National Dialogue, which opened last May, without the approval of Abdoulaye Wade, patron of the PDS. Why this initiative?
A fortnight before, I chatted with President Wade. President Wade had given his full agreement to the National Dialogue. He mandated me to go there. In the evening around 8 p.m., there was a press release from the PDS and the press release said that the PDS was not going to the National Dialogue.
I already knew that Karim Wade did not want this National Dialogue. He wanted President Macky Sall to rule on the review of his trial as a prerequisite. And now, on this occasion, we take an uncoordinated measure. It never happened. It was really the drop of water that made the vase overflow. I said to myself: I will take my responsibilities and go to the national dialogue, explain to the activists, to the populations of Senegal, why I went to the National dialogue.
Last August, you launched the Sukhali Sopi movement, with other tenors of the PDS, Amadou Sall or Babacar Gaye. Where are we with this alliance?
You see almost everywhere in the department in the north or south of Senegal, officials, whole sections who declare themselves today members of Sukhali Sopi. We cannot, too, sit idly by! The PDS no longer exists in reality! There is no activity left! So we cannot die with this PDS and we will demonstrate that most of the activists and leaders of the PDS are with us. We will demonstrate this in the upcoming elections.
Local elections, which should normally take place at the end of March 2021 at the latest.
And so, possibly, the ambition would be to present candidates under the Sukhali Sopi banner?
Yes, absolutely. Today, we don’t see ourselves as PDS candidates for Karim’s fan club. We think we embody the PDS in what is healthier, more combative. So if the PDS shell is no longer usable, we will have to define another strategy and probably be a party.
So war is really declared with Abdoulaye Wade and the Karimists?
President Wade, we respect him. We will always continue to respect it. He’s our mentor, sort of. But the Karim fan club is not PDS for us. We think we embody it better. We cannot, neither stop nor step back. We will continue.