Senegalese-Born Man Stands for French Presidency

A Senegalese-born French politician has offered himself as a candidate for France’s Socialist Party in a bid to become the country’s first black President.

Mr Yaya Lam, 46, a France-trained financial expert, officially announced his candidacy last week and remained optimistic that he could spring a big surprise that would set him firmly on the path to the 2012 presidential election.

His slogan is “Oser la France”, literally translated to mean “Dare France”.

The Socialist Party, on which former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Khan was expected to mount a strong challenge against President Nicolas Sarkozy, is considering Mr Lam’s candidacy ahead of the October 9-16 primaries.

So far, only six candidates– four men and two women including current party boss Martine Aubry–have registered. All the other candidates are white with Aubry and Francois Hollande seen as the outright frontrunners.

But in a public statement in Poitiers, France, Mr Lam said he was confident he would make his mark.

“The world has changed,” he said, apparently referring to US President Barack Obama. “When he (Obama) fielded his candidacy, he practically had no one behind him,” said Mr Lam.

‘Regain glory’

“I have held reputable positions in Seine, le Val de Marne, in Montmorillon (where his adopted mother lives) and in Poitier – all French regions,” he said.

Mr Lam insisted that with the help of the millions of original French people and the naturalised citizens who believe that France needs to regain its past glory he could edge ahead in the party primary.

In his statement, he said: “We’re frequently being told that French people are losing jobs…but when I walk in the public space, I can only see Chinese behind the businesses and not French…”

“I am not against globalisation, but I can not integrate another person if I do not know who I am.”

“We need to regain our values and our roots…we French people do have cultural values and have always led the others,” he declared.

Analysts say the only banana skin to his candidacy was the number of years one should have been a member of the party.

The number of years should not be less than 10, but insiders say that point is subject to a candidate’s potential.

Mr Lam has been member of the party for over half a decade.

Another Senegalese-born national, Ms Rama Yade, rose to the rank of a senior minister in Mr Sarkozy’s government but did not nurture presidential ambitions.