Africa

Meet Senegal’s youngest President-Elect  Bassirou Diomaye Faye

Senegalese president-elect Bassirou Diomaye Faye gestures in Dakar on Monday as he addresses his first press conference after being declared winner of the country's election. (John Wessels/AFP/Getty Images)

Political newcomer and opposition leader Bassirou Diomaye Faye, aged 44, was greeted with congratulations on Monday (March 25) by Senegal’s sitting president, Macky Sall. Faye is now positioned to assume the presidency of the West African nation, a remarkable feat achieved in less than two weeks after his release from prison to contest in the elections.

As reported by the Senegalese News Agency (APS), the constitutional council is slated to reveal the election results starting on April 3rd. The former prime minister, who was another frontrunner supported by incumbent President Sall, gracefully conceded defeat based on initial results. This move was welcomed by Diomaye Faye, who remarked during an address in Dakar on Monday (March 25): “I commend the gesture of the other candidates who, without exception, have upheld a longstanding Senegalese tradition by extending congratulations even before the official results are announced by authorized state entities. Their congratulatory messages stand as a testament to their magnanimity.”

In his speech, Faye pledged to govern with humility and combat corruption. He also expressed his commitment to advancing political and economic integration across Africa, along with assuring reliability to Senegal’s international partners. Addressing a full room, he affirmed, “I want to assure the global community and our bilateral and multilateral partners that Senegal will always honor its obligations. It will remain a friendly nation and a steadfast and trustworthy ally for any partner engaging with us in beneficial, respectful, and mutually productive cooperation.”

Faye’s rise to prominence mirrors the disillusionment among the youth stemming from high unemployment rates and concerns regarding governance in Senegal. A protégé of Ousmane Sonko, Faye has vowed to shield Senegal from corruption and external interference.

Transitioning from prison to the presidency, Faye’s journey symbolizes a significant chapter in Senegal’s political landscape. The election, held on Sunday (March 24), marked the culmination of months of unrest sparked by the arrests of Faye and Sonko last year, amid apprehensions that the president might seek a third term in contravention of constitutional term limits.

The upheaval challenged Senegal’s reputation as a stable democracy within a region marked by political upheavals. Human rights organizations reported casualties in the protests, with around 1,000 individuals detained. Faye, a former tax inspector, was relatively unknown until Sonko designated him as his successor.

Faye’s presidency, set to commence on April 2, 2024, marks a turning point in Senegal’s political trajectory. His background includes a birth in Ndiaganiao, M’Bour, Thies, Senegal, on March 25, 1980. He previously served as the General-Secretary of the now-defunct political party PASTEF (Patriotes africains du Sénégal pour le travail, l’éthique et la fraternité), founded by Ousmane Sonko in 2014. Faye’s education encompasses a master’s degree in law and a tenure as a tax inspector before delving into politics.

Throughout his campaign, Faye emphasized job creation, anti-corruption efforts, and a reevaluation of energy contracts, rallying under the slogan “Diomaye mooy Ousmane” (“Diomaye is Ousmane” in Wolof), leveraging Sonko’s popularity among Senegal’s youth. His alliances and promises resonated with many, signaling a shift in Senegal’s political landscape under his leadership.

Quick Facts about Bassirou Diomaye Faye:

  • Born on March 25, 1980, in Ndiaganiao, Senegal.
  • Former General-Secretary of the dissolved political party, PASTEF (Patriotes Africains du Sénégal pour le Travail, l’Éthique et la Fraternité).
  • Holds a master’s degree in law and completed competitive exams at the National School of Administration (ENA) and the magistracy in 2004.
  • Started his career as a tax inspector and developed a close relationship with Ousmane Sonko.
  • Endorsed by Sonko as a presidential candidate in November 2023.
  • Spent over 11 months in prison before his release days before the presidential election.
  • Promised to create jobs, fight corruption, and review energy contracts during his campaign.
  • Known for his alliance with Sonko and popularity among Senegal’s youth.

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