/ 22 April 2008

No food crisis here, says Senegal’s president

Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade said on Monday there was neither famine nor hunger riots in the West African country, blaming a recent rally on opposition groups.

”There is no famine in Senegal. There are no hunger riots in Senegal,” Wade said while inaugurating an agricultural project in the village of Djilakh, 80km south of Dakar.

Wade’s comments followed an article in the French daily Le Parisien, widely commented upon in Senegal’s private media, about the rise in food prices in Senegal and a March 30 rally against them.

Police cracked down hard on the rally, banned by the authorities, using batons and tear gas and arresting about two dozen people.

Wade blamed the rally on opposition groups looking to gain attention and journalists seeking ”sensation”.

The Senegalese government has moved to soften the blow of rising food prices, which it blames on cost increases in the international market, by cutting taxes and increasing subsidies on staples. — Sapa-AFP