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Part two: Aspiring heirs

Text by Ségolène ALLEMANDOU , Guillaume LOIRET

Latest update : 2009-09-04

FRANCE 24 takes a look at African countries where power is soon likely to be transferred from father to son. Karim Wade of Senegal (right) and Gamal Mubarak of Egypt (left) are not in office yet, but have their eyes on the political throne.

SENEGAL: Karim Wade, financial analyst turned minister

President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal has long denied that he is grooming his son Karim to take the reins of power. The 82-year-old president, in power since 2000, has employed his Paris-educated son as personal advisor to the president since 2002.

But Karim himself has some difficulty in masking his presidential ambitions. “I know of some very great democracies where son has succeeded father in office,” he said in March, in reference to the Bush family in the USA.

Under his father’s approving eye, Karim has taken every opportunity to take a lead in Senegalese politics. As the head of the agency in charge of organising the 11 summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference in March 2008, he struck up very useful relations with financiers from the Gulf. He was later hailed as one of the 100 African personalities to watch for 2009 by Jeune Afrique magazine.

Karim suffered his first political setback in March 2009 after standing for mayor of the Senegalese capital Dakar – which he lost.

His father Abdoulaye reacted by appointing his son Minister of State for International Cooperation, Urban and Regional Planning, Air Transport and Infrastructure.

Karim has therefore become the first son of a ruling president to be part of his government in the Republic of Senegal.
EGYPT: Gamal Mubarak, from the Bank of America to the NDP
“Egypt isn’t a monarchy”, 81-year-old Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak likes to say. That doesn’t mean his youngest son Gamal doesn’t have his eye on the presidential seat. Although he can run for president, he will have to polish his leadership credentials before running for office in the country’s next presidential election, scheduled for 2011.

Born in 1963, Gamal Mubarak made his name as a businessman before entering the world of public affairs. After graduating from the American University of Cairo, he began his career at the Bank of America, first in Egypt then in the UK. He went on to create the private investment fund Medinvest.


He joined Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) in 2000, eventually becoming its political bureau chief and de facto number two. He successfully orchestrated his father’s victorious campaign in the country’s first multipartite elections in 2005 – his major political accomplishment.


Gamal likes to be seen as an agent of change within his party. Spearheading the NDP’s new guard, he purged the party of its most corrupt members and replaced them by loyal followers. His close advisors have been catapulted to government positions: Egyptian business giant Ahmed Ezz was named chairman of the NDPs Planning and Budget Committee while businessman Rachid Mohammed became industry minister.


Mubarak Jr, who describes himself as a staunch liberal, is popular among young Egyptians and the business world, although he lacks the international recognition necessary to complete his presidential credentials. His father certainly seems to be grooming him for the job, though – frequently bringing him along on international visits and introducing him to foreign heads of state.


Gamal Mubarak’s presidential ambitions will face two major setbacks: firstly, he is not part of the Egyptian military, which has backed or appointed all of the country’s leaders since the 1952 military coup. Secondly, Egypt’s US ally is not very fond of father-son regimes…And is likely to say so ahead of the upcoming elections.


Date created : 2009-08-28