Bassirou Faye Sworn In As Senegal’s Youngest President

The youngest president of Senegal, the left-wing pan-Africanist Bassirou Diomaye Faye, was sworn in on Tuesday. Faye won the election in the first round by promising drastic change, yet he was just 10 days out of prison when he made the promise.

Despite the 44-year-old’s lack of political experience, a number of prominent African figures were present at the inauguration ceremony in the new town of Diamniadio, close to Dakar, the city.

Faye addressed the assembled officials, saying, “Before God and the Senegalese nation, I swear to faithfully fulfil the duty of President of the Republic of Senegal.”

In addition, he promised to “scrupulously observe the provisions of the Constitution and the laws,” protect “the integrity of the land and national independence, and to spare no effort to achieve African unity.”

At the presidential palace in Dakar, the ceremonial transfer of power to President Macky Sall will occur.

Ten days prior to the presidential voting on March 24, Sall, who had sought to delay the vote, declared an amnesty, freeing Faye and a number of political opponents from prison.

While still in custody, Faye began his campaign.

This West African nation’s fifth president since gaining independence from France in 1960 is the first to publicly acknowledge polygamy; he was formerly a tax inspector.

In his victory address, Faye outlined the aims of his coalition with his disqualified populist mentor, Ousmane Sonko, which included battling corruption, relieving a cost-of-living issue, and promoting national unity.

The anti-establishment figurehead has promised to reassert national control over vital resources including fisheries, oil, and gas.

In an effort to achieve food independence, Faye would like to see the regional CFA franc abandoned, viewing it as a relic of French colonisation. He would rather see increased investment in agriculture.

However, he has also made an effort to reassure investors by saying that Senegal “will remain a friendly country and a sure and loyal ally for any partner who engages with us in virtuous, courteous, and mutually profitable partnership.”

People all around the world, from Washington to Paris, via the African Union and the European Union, celebrated his democratic victory following three years of violent turmoil in the usually peaceful nation.

The United States’ strong desire in extending the cooperation was “underscored” by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a telephone conversation with the president-elect on Monday, according to the State Department.

On the global stage, Faye is working to reintegrate Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali, which are currently governed by the military, into the ECOWAS bloc.

Politicians from the next generation

He received 54.3% of the vote and is popularly known as Diomaye, which means “the honourable one” in Serer, the local language.

It was an astonishing turn of events following Sall’s decision to postpone the election and the dissolution of the Pastef party he co-founded with Sonko in 2014 by the government.

Faye exemplifies a new wave of young politicians; he is a devout Muslim from a modest family with four children and two spouses.

Former US president Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela, a hero in the fight against apartheid in South Africa, are figures he has expressed affection for.

Yet, Faye and the government he has to reveal will encounter formidable obstacles in no time.

In order to pass new laws, he will need to seek out partnerships, as he does not have a majority in the National Assembly. In mid-November, he will have the option to call a legislative election.

The new president of Senegal, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, is sworn in at an exposition facility in the village of Diamniadio, close to Dakar, near the city on April 2, 2024. (Image credit: AAFP/John WESSELS)

Making enough jobs to employ a population of 18 million people—75 percent of whom are under the age of 35—in a country with an official unemployment rate of 20 percent will be the greatest obstacle.

A large number of young people have joined the hordes of migrants attempting to reach Europe because they see no hope for a better future.

Meanwhile, Sall has been designated as a special envoy of the Paris Pact for People and Planet, an agreement aimed at fighting poverty, safeguarding the environment, and providing assistance to nations that are particularly vulnerable.

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