Abdoulaye Wade (born May 29, 1926) is the third and current President of Senegal, in office since 2000. He is also the Secretary-General of the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) and has led the party since it was founded in 1974. A long-time opposition leader, he ran for President four times, beginning in 1978, before he was elected in 2000.
Wade was born in Kébémer, Senegal; officially, he was born in 1926, although some claim he was born several years earlier, and the record-keeping of the time is not considered particularly reliable. He studied and taught law at the lycée Condorcet in France. He holds two doctorates in law and economics. He was also dean of the law and economics faculty at the University of Dakar in Senegal. He is married to Viviane Wade. Their son, Karim Wade, is the former head of the national agency of the Islamic Organization Conference and has served since May 2009 as the Minister of State for International Cooperation, Urban and Regional Planning, Air Transport, and Infrastructure. Their daughter, Sindjely Wade, is a Special Assistant to the President who has participated in many Paris-Dakar rallies.
At a summit of the Organization of African Unity in Mogadishu in 1974, Wade told President Léopold Sédar Senghor that he wanted to start a new party, and Senghor agreed to this. The PDS was founded on 31 July 1974. The party—initially intended as a Labour party—adopted liberalism in 1976 due to the introduction of a law permitting the existence of only three parties with three distinct ideologies, two of which were taken by other parties (liberalism was therefore the only remaining option). Wade first ran for President in February 1978 against Senghor, taking 17.38% of the vote. Senghor gave Wade the nickname "Diombor" (Wolof for hare). Also in 1978, Wade was elected to the National Assembly, where he served until 1980. Subsequently he ran in the presidential elections of 1983 and 1988, taking second place each time, behind Senghor's successor Abdou Diouf. Following the 1988 election, he was arrested due to protests against the results and received a suspended sentence. Subsequently he went to France, but returned in 1990.