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In the Loop: Snark at Home for Senegal's President Wade

President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal arrives for a July G-8 meeting in Italy. A more recent trip drew criticism from at least one news outlet back home.
President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal arrives for a July G-8 meeting in Italy. A more recent trip drew criticism from at least one news outlet back home. (By Michel Euler -- Pool)
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By Al Kamen
Monday, September 21, 2009

The president of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, flew into town last week to pick up $540 million from the Millennium Challenge Corp. for a five-year project to improve roads and irrigation systems in his country, which is considered a showcase for democratic governance and development in Africa.

Wade, a longtime opposition leader, was democratically elected in 2000.

Apparently Senegal also has a free press, at least on the Web. A congressional source flagged this snarky item from Seneweb.com, chastising Wade for his trip even before he got here.

"Wade: Two airplanes, more than 100 guests and several million francs: Wade does the Bamboula over" the grant. (The bamboula is a dance.)

"Mr. Wade mobilized two airplanes, more than 100 guests and [thousands of dollars] to mark the event even before the project enters its active phase."

"To celebrate this event as it should be done," the item said, according to a translation by Loop Fan Agn├ęs Tabah, Wade "has not skimped on the means."

Citing "sources close to the presidency," the site said there were to be two chartered planes -- "one for him and his traditional staff and one for his guests."

That means at least 100 people will attend the event and tens of thousands of dollars will be spent on "hotels, costs, per diems and other costs," the site said. "And all of it paid by the Senegalese taxpayer. Among the people going to Washington there are business leaders, and entrepreneurs who were involved in putting together the agreement."

Sounds like your typical congressional delegation. And at least Wade got $540 million. Our lawmakers just bring back duty-free stuff.

U.N.-Conspicuous

President Obama's appearance this week at the United Nations may be a chance for U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to emerge from her relatively low profile there. Rice, compared with her predecessors, has been well under the radar. In her first eight months on the job, she has been mentioned a total of 75 times in this paper, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Newsweek and Time.

In contrast, Madeleine K. Albright was mentioned 165 times in her first eight months in that job, and the more outgoing Bill Richardson logged 210 mentions. John "Take 10 Floors off the Building" Bolton hit 227 mentions when he was the ambassador, Post research director Alice Crites reports.

Rice, the essence of quiet diplomacy?


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