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Senegalese ex-PM to challenge Wade for presidency

Written by: Staff

DAKAR, April 5 (Reuters) Senegal's former prime minister Idrissa Seck announced on Tuesday he will compete against President Abdoulaye Wade in 2007 presidential polls, shortly after his release from prison on graft charges.

Seck, a popular prime minister until Wade sacked him in 2004, left prison in February after spending more than six months in custody on charges of embezzlement and threatening state security. He was never brought to trial.

The case against Seck led to a split in Senegal's ruling PDS party and allegations of a political witch-hunt by the president to eliminate a possible political rival. Wade has already announced he will stand for re-election next year.

''I am pleased to solemnly announce that I have taken a decision to submit to the suffrage of my compatriots a project for national recovery,'' Seck said in a recorded message distributed to the media yesterday.

Seck said he would draw on support in the PDS but also called on opposition parties to support him.

He timed his announcement to coincide with Senegal's independence day, a national holiday which saw Wade welcome international guests such as Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The charismatic politician was charged in July with threatening state security, linked to evidence investigators say surfaced during a probe into allegations he embezzled government money in his position as mayor of the eastern town of Thies.

Seck, whose arrest in July sparked clashes between police Reuters AD VP0223

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