Ex-president Wade returns to Senegal on Friday after flight delay

DAKAR, April 24 Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:50am EDT

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DAKAR, April 24 (Reuters) - Former Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade will return to his West African nation on Friday for the first time since losing 2012 elections, two days later than planned due to problems with his flight, his Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) said.

Wade's return was delayed after his hired jet was stuck in Morocco, prompting accusations from the PDS that the flight had been refused permission to land in Dakar on Wednesday.

A government spokesman denied that authorization for Wade's jet to land had been refused, saying no request had been received ahead of time.

"To allow all those who want to come in big numbers to welcome him, our party asked President Wade to postpone his arrival till Friday April 25 and he agreed," PDS said in a statement.

Wade's impending return has heightened tensions in one of Africa's most stable democracy.

Senegalese police dispersed hundreds of Wade's supporters who gathered at Dakar airport to welcome him on Wednesday. Outside Dakar's main university, pro-Wade students threw rocks at police and they responded with tear gas.

The return of Wade, whose son Karim is facing corruption charges, is awaited by his party which heads to local elections in June looking to capitalize on frustration at stubborn unemployment under his successor, Macky Sall.

Wade, 87, who has been living in France for the past two years, decided to come back after authorities decided last week to press ahead with his son's trial in June. Local media see Wade's return as a way to put pressure on Sall's government before the trial.

Many ordinary people in Senegal say Sall's drive to tackle corruption and improve governance has failed to provide jobs and economic growth in the former French colony of 13 million people. (Reporting By Diadie Ba; Editing by Bate Felix and Daniel Flynn)

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