PHOTOS: Bassirou Faye Sworn In As Senegal’s Youngest President

Bassirou Diomaye Faye, a left-wing pan-Africanist, was sworn in as Senegal’s youngest president on Tuesday after winning a first-round election on a platform of radical reform 10 days after being released from prison.

The 44-year-old has never held elected office before, yet several African leaders attended the ceremony in Diamniadio, a new town near the capital Dakar.

“Before God and the Senegalese nation, I swear to faithfully fulfill the office of President of the Republic of Senegal,” Faye told the assembled leaders.

Bassirou Diomaye Faye (L) is sworn in as Senegal’s President at an exhibition centre in the new town of Diamniadio near the capital Dakar on April 2, 2024. (Photo by John WESSELS / AFP)

Furthermore, he pledged to “scrupulously observe the provisions of the Constitution and the laws” in order to preserve “the integrity of the territory and national independence, and to spare no effort to achieve African unity” .

The solemn transition of power to outgoing President Macky Sall will take place at the presidential palace in Dakar.

Faye was among a number of political opponents released from prison 10 days before the March 24 presidential election under an amnesty announced by Sall, who had attempted to postpone the vote.

Faye launched his campaign while still in custody.

The former tax inspector is West Africa’s fifth president since its independence from France in 1960, and the first to openly admit to polygamy.

Working with his populist mentor Ousmane Sonko, who was forbidden from running in the election, Faye proclaimed their priorities in his victory speech: national reconciliation, relieving the cost-of-living issue, and combating corruption.

The anti-establishment leader has promised to restore national sovereignty over crucial industries such as oil, gas, and fishing.

Faye wants to abandon the regional CFA franc, which he sees as a French colonial legacy, and spend more in agriculture to achieve food self-sufficiency.

 

Bassirou Diomaye Faye speaks after being sworn in as Senegal’s President at an exhibition centre in the new town of Diamniadio near the capital Dakar on April 2, 2024. (Photo by John WESSELS / AFP)

 

However, he has also attempted to reassure investors that Senegal “will remain a friendly country and a sure and reliable ally for any partner that engages with us in virtuous, respectful, and mutually productive cooperation.”

After three tense years of deadly turmoil in the typically stable country, his democratic victory was celebrated from Washington to Paris, via the African Union and the European Union.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the president-elect by phone on Monday and “underscored the United States’ strong interest in deepening the partnership” between the two countries, according to the State Department.

On the international scene, Faye aspires to reintegrate military-run Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger into the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

A new generation of politicians

Diomaye, or “the honourable one” in the local Serer language, won the election with 54.3% of the vote.

It was a remarkable turnaround when the government dissolved the Pastef party, which he created with Sonko in 2014, and Sall postponed the election.

Faye, a practicing Muslim from a poor family with two spouses and four children, exemplifies a new breed of young politicians.

He has expressed appreciation for former US President Barack Obama and South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.

However, Faye and the administration he must establish will soon confront significant hurdles.

He lacks a majority in the National Assembly and will need to form alliances to pass new laws, or call a parliamentary election, which will be possible beginning in mid-November.

 

Bassirou Diomaye Faye (L) is sworn in as Senegal’s President at an exhibition centre in the new town of Diamniadio near the capital Dakar on April 2, 2024. (Photo by John WESSELS / AFP)

 

The most difficult problem will be producing enough jobs in a country where 75 percent of the 18 million people are under the age of 35, and the official jobless rate is 20 percent.

Many young people have seen the future so gloomy that they have risked their lives to join the waves of migrants attempting to enter Europe.

Sall, meanwhile, has been appointed special envoy of the Paris Pact for People and Planet, which was established to combat poverty, safeguard the environment, and assist vulnerable countries.

 

 

Leave a Reply