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Monday, 20 March, 2000, 14:11 GMT
Profile: Senegal's new president
Exuberant supporters are promising to copy Mr Wade's hair style
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. If this maxim applies to anyone in African politics, then it is surely Senegal's president-elect, Abdoulaye Wade.

He has had his eye on the presidency for a long time before finally winning in a run-off election on Sunday.

The 74-year-old opposition veteran took part in his first presidential election in 1978, and in four subsequent polls.

Abdoulaye Wade
Newly-elected President Abdoulaye Wade
A lawyer and a pioneer of African opposition politics long before multi-party democratic elections were widespread, he founded his party in 1974.

Since then he has been denouncing the de facto one-party rule of his great rival President Abdou Diouf.

The Socialist Party, which has been in power since independence from France in 1960, has been described by Mr Wade as corrupt and full of cronyism.

"The first great objective of my political life was to get rid of a system in Senegal. Midnight has struck, the system is dead," Mr Wade said after voting in the second round of presidential elections on Sunday.

Liberal with few promises

Mr Wade is a devout Muslim and presents himself as a liberal, although he has successfully allied himself to parties further to the left.

Several times a political prisoner, the president-elect describes himself as a "committed pan-Africanist".

He has been an MP and has served twice in a coalition government

Strong support for Mr Wade in urban areas
Under a government coalition in the 1990s, Mr Wade even reported directly to President Abdou Diouf as a minister in the presidency from March 1995 to March 1998.

He has studied and taught law in France and was dean of the law and economics faculty at the University of Dakar, Senegal.

During the election he failed to make many election promises - other than to govern by certain principles - "probity, good work and involvement of the youth in the construction of Senegal".

Though he is most popular in urban areas, it also appears that for the first time rural voters have also away from the Socialist Party and towards Mr Wade.

The long-standing rivals contested the nation's first ever run-off presidential vote on Sunday after a first round proved inconclusive.

Five of the six other candidates who dropped out backed Mr Wade, including Moustapha Niasse, a former foreign minister in President Diouf's party who is expected to become the new prime minister.

Mr Niasse has said the new government's first task would be "to re-establish the country's equilibrium and stop the wave of corruption".

Shaven heads

Mr Wade has also attracted some fanatical supporters - promising some highly unusual celebrations.

"We have told everyone we will shave our heads to be like Mr Wade," one group of fervent supporters told journalists.

"After that we are going to stand naked in front of the presidential palace to proclaim that we are like new-born babies and that a new Senegal is born."

But celebrations aside, Mr Wade's historic victory above all will be seen as a triumph for a country which has long been considered a model of African democracy, despite the Socialists never previously having lost their grip on power.

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20 Mar 00 | Africa
Senegal votes for change
28 Feb 00 | Africa
Row over Senegal vote
27 Feb 00 | Africa
High turnout for Senegal poll
25 Feb 00 | Africa
Election violence in Senegal
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