By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK | 30 October 2023 (IDN) — Precious possessions belonging to the first president of Senegal were saved from the auction block in a last-minute deal between the Senegalese state and a private individual.
Solene Laine, the auctioneer said the sale was postponed because she and the seller “perfectly understood the excitement caused by this sale among the Senegalese.”
Rings, bracelets, military medals, diplomatic gifts, watches and gold fountain pens owned by Leopold Sedar Senghor and his wife were among the items scheduled to be auctioned in Caen, France.
But on 22 October, the auctioneer agreed to delay bidding after the Senegalese state asked to negotiate with the current owner about buying the collection directly.
The sale would have gone forward in December if no agreement had been reached.
Senegal’s culture ministry said it had spent $260,000 to acquire the items.
“These lots were not put up for auction and we immediately contacted both the Senegalese government and our heir,” the auctioneer said.
Meanwhile, the precious property of Sebastian Ajavon, a former presidential candidate and a political opponent of Patrice Talon, president of Benin, was seized by the Beninese government from his home in Cotonou, Benin. Ajavon was accused of tax fraud and drug trafficking but was acquitted before the Cotonou First Class Court. He was tried again by the newly created Anti-Economic Crimes and Terrorism Court which he contends violated his rights guaranteed by international human rights laws.
He currently lives in Paris as a political refugee.
His conviction was termed illegal by the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, saying it violated the rights to equality, freedom of association and to participate in government. Amnesty International described a “climate of censorship and fear” and warned that a law targeting misinformation online was being used to harass the media.
Seventeen journalists, bloggers and opposition activists have been investigated under the legislation in recent years, Amnesty said, but Benin has refused to reconsider its laws. [IDN-InDepthNews]
Photo: Leopold Senghor. Source: KOACI
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