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“Our aid frees up funds for Wade to hire a North Korean state-run company,” he said.

J. Peter Pham, a senior vice president and director of the Africa Project at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, questioned the commitment to good governance of a country that “needs our assistance to get out of poverty but has the money to spend on a statute the majority of its citizens don’t want.”

“At the very least, it demonstrates the country’s leadership has its most basic priorities wrong,” he said. “The statue alone would be grounds to stop the aid. If you have $70 million to waste on a statute that most of the population opposes, then why should you even receive $10 million, much less $540 million?”

But the statue isn’t the only reason critics say U.S. taxpayer dollars should be withheld.

In September 2009, Mr. Wade gave a $200,000 farewell gift to the departing representative of the International Monetary Fund, which provided hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the poverty-stricken West African country.

The IMF employee, Alex Segura, did not open the farewell gift until after leaving a dinner with the president. He turned over the money to the IMF, which returned it to Senegal, according to an IMF statement on its investigation of the incident.

“The President explained that the money was intended as a traditional farewell gift to Mr. Segura in recognition of his contribution to Senegal, and was not in any way intended to influence either Mr. Segura, who was leaving the country permanently, or the IMF. He acknowledged that the amount that was provided was a mistake,” the IMF said in a statement.

Earlier last year, the 84-year-old president created a super-Cabinet ministry post for his son Karim, putting him in charge of all infrastructure, international cooperation, regional development and air transport projects. Some observers think Mr. Wade is positioning his son, a controversial figure in Senegal, to succeed him.

Mr. Pham pointed out that in previous government posts, the younger Mr. Wade was “was criticized for cost overruns and accused of corruption.”

In September 2009, Mr. Royce wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton — who heads the MCC board — urging her to “strongly convey” to the government of Senegal before signing the compact that “it must take firm steps to address its recent rule of law and corruption backsliding.”

He wrote that it was “troubling” that Mr. Wade had appointed his son to a position that was “likely to play a significant role in directing U.S. tax dollars provided to Senegal through the compact.”

A top assistant to Mrs. Clinton wrote back to Mr. Royce in October saying that the secretary of state shared his concerns over “signs of slippage in governancein Senegaland that these issues had been raised with officials at the highest levels in Senegalese government.

Nevertheless, the compact was signed in September.

Todd Moss, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, said the MCC board has to figure out what to do with a country like Senegal, which earned passing scores on the corruption indicators but “is becoming an embarrassing example of the worst kinds of misuse of funds and abuse of authority.”

Senegal is a country coming off the rails,” said Mr. Moss, who was a deputy assistant secretary in the State Department Bureau of African Affairs during the Bush administration. “Democracy is under serious threat in Senegal.”

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