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Senegal has inaugurated a massive $27m monument – higher than the Statue of Liberty – that has drawn huge criticism over its cost and symbolism.

The 160 ft Monument of African Renaissance has been unveiled in Dakar as the highlight of the nation’s 50th anniversary of independence.

Some scholars have labelled its scantily clad figures un-Islamic, while others said it was a waste of money.

Supporters say it represents Africa’s rise from “intolerance and racism”.

In the hours leading up to the inauguration, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Dakar to voice their opposition.

The Soviet-style bronze statue, the idea of President Abdoulaye Wade, depicts three figures – a man holding a woman behind him and a child aloft, pointing out to sea.

Mr Wade’s plan that he should take 35% of the revenue generated by the monument because it was his idea, has also attracted fierce criticism.

Dignitaries including West African heads of state attended the inauguration.

The opening is the highlight of the nation’s 50th independence anniversary.

Thousands of demonstrators marched in protest against the statue in Dakar on Saturday.

Riot police patrolled the streets during the rally, which the authorities initially banned, before relenting.

The demonstration was called to protest against “all the failures of Wade’s regime, the least of which is this horrible statue”.

Deputy opposition leader Ndeye Fatou Toure said the statue was an “economic monster and a financial scandal in the context of the current [economic] crisis,” AFP news agency reports.

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Article courtesy bbc.co,uk