Prison to Presidency: Meet Senegal’s 44-year-old President-elect, Bassirou Diomaye Faye

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Senegal has a new president in the person of Bassirou Diomaye Faye, producing West Africa’s youngest democratically elected president in the process.

 

Born in 1980, the 44-year-old had become the default opposition leader in the March 24, 2024 election that had 19 candidates on the ballot.

Faye became the opposition leader after his boss, the widely-loved Ousmane Sonko was barred by the courts from the elections because of statutory convictions on high crimes.

The result marks the beginning of the end of the two-term of outgoing President Macky Sall, who affirmed that his tenure will end on April 2 without fail.

Faye, like his boss Sonko, had been in jail and was only granted presidential amnesty weeks to the polls.

Here are key facts about Senegal’s next president

a. He was released from jail on March 16 along with Sonko.

b. Faye and Sonko are leaders of the Patriotes Africains du Sénégal pour le Travail, l’Ethique et la Fraternité (Pastef), a party dissolved in July 2023.

c. He had spent 335 days in pre-trial detention for “contempt of court” and “calling for insurrection” among other charges.

d. He celebrated his 44th birthday on March 25, 2024, the day he was announced winner of the vote.

e. In 2014, at the age of 34, Faye, an alumnus of the Ecole Nationale de l’Administration (ENA), made his mark during the meetings that led to the creation of Pastef.

f. He would go on to become one of the ideologues and designers of Sonko’s program for his presidential candidacy in 2019. It was a stroke of genius: In his first election, the Pastef leader garnered almost 16% of the vote and came third, a Le Monde profile noted.

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g. President Macky Sall and the ruling party candidate, Amadou Ba, and other opponents have since congratulated him for victory.

h. He becomes the 5th president of Senegal, one of Africa’s most stable democracies. Reputed to not have had a military intervention since independence.

i. Diomaye Faye has two wives, which development has attracted a lot of reactions on social media.

In his victory speech posted on social media, he outlined four immediate priorities.

“In view of the emergencies that confront us and the hope placed in us, we are working relentlessly, diligently and methodically around priority projects:

1- National reconciliation and the reconstruction of the foundations of our living together;

2- The rebuilding of institutions

3- Significant reduction in the cost of living to alleviate the burdens of daily life;

4- National inclusive sectoral consultations on the evaluation and relaunch of public policies.

“We will walk together, act together and succeed together! Long live Senegal; Long live the Republic; Long live Africa,” he stated.

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