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Africa’s youngest elected president takes power

Bassirou Diomaye Faye, who was released from prison just days before last month’s election in Senegal, was sworn in as the country’s new leader on Tuesday

Senegalese opposition leader Bassirou Diomaye Faye, who was released just days before the West African nation’s March 24 elections, has been sworn in as president.

Faye claimed 54.28% of the vote, defeating 18 other contenders, including the outgoing ruling party’s candidate, former prime minister Amadou Ba, according to results announced by Senegal’s court of appeals last week.

In a series of statements posted on X (formerly Twitter) after taking the oath of office on Tuesday, Faye said his victory reflects a “deep desire for systemic change” in the former French colony.

“I am committed, by promoting the cult of work, management ethics, discipline, and love of the homeland, to resolutely and sustainably putting Senegal on the path to economic and social progress,” the 44-year-old former tax inspector pledged.

Faye’s inauguration in the town of Diamniadio, near the capital Dakar, was attended by his two wives, several presidents and government representatives from the West African region, and African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat.

The new president appointed Ousmane Sonko, the barred opposition leader he replaced in the election, as Senegal’s prime minister hours after being sworn in.

Faye and Sonko, co-founders of the now-defunct Patriots for Work, Ethics, and Fraternity Party (PASTEF), were granted political amnesty less than two weeks before voting. They had been imprisoned over alleged defamation and inciting rebellion. Both campaigned under the banner “Diomaye is Sonko.” 

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FILE PHOTO: Bassirou Diomaye Faye.
Senegal opposition leader wins presidential election

The peaceful transition came after months of political unrest in Senegal, heightened by the recent postponement of the presidential election originally scheduled for February 25. Macky Sall, whose presidency ended on Tuesday, enacted legislation that would have postponed voting until December, but the move was ruled unconstitutional by Senegal’s highest electoral court after days of deadly protests and arrests.

The turmoil sparked widespread concern about democratic backsliding in West Africa, where military leaders in countries including Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Niger have in recent years deposed civilian governments.

On Tuesday, Faye vowed to “strengthen democracy,” work to maintain peace and sovereignty, and promote peace in Senegal and Africa.

“As I speak to you today, I am reminded of the painful memories of the martyrs of Senegalese democracy, the amputees, the wounded and the former prisoners. I will always keep in mind the heavy sacrifices made in order to never disappoint you,” he stated.

April 03, 2024 at 02:44PM

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