BY Stephen Nartey, 3:35pm March 26, 2024,

Senegal’s Bassirou Diomaye Faye on the road to become Africa’s youngest elected leader


Bassirou Diomaye Faye is set to make history as Africa’s youngest democratically elected leader. A year ago, he had a dog’s chance of leading the West African nation of Senegal. But, he rose from political obscurity to the presidency, marking a surprising twist in Senegalese politics.

His release from jail just before the presidential election, alongside key ally Ousmane Sonko, is part of the major factors that catapulted him into the spotlight.

Nicknamed “Mr. Clean”, he faces the daunting task of delivering on his pledge for comprehensive reforms as he assumes office, according to the BBC.

Described as “methodical” and “modest,” the tax collector, who turned 44 on Monday, recounted his early upbringing in rural Ndiaganiao with fondness.

He added that he frequently returns to the countryside every Sunday to engage in agricultural work. His affinity for village life parallels a profound skepticism and mistrust toward Senegal’s elites and traditional politics.

“He’s never been a minister and wasn’t a statesman so critics question his lack of experience,” analyst Alioune Tine told the BBC.

“But, from Faye’s point of view, the insiders who’ve run the country since 1960 have made some catastrophic failures.”

Addressing poverty, injustice, and corruption stands as a primary focus for Faye. During his tenure at the Treasury, he collaborated with Sonko to establish a union task force aimed at combating graft.

Faye advocated for the renegotiation of gas, oil, fishing, and defense agreements to prioritize the interests of the Senegalese populace. He promised a new era characterized by “sovereignty” and “rupture” rather than perpetuating the status quo, particularly a deliberate shift in relations with France, BBC reported.

Senegal’s president-elect plans to abandon the heavily scrutinized CFA franc, currently pegged to the euro and supported by former colonial ruler France. Faye aims to introduce a new Senegalese or regional West African currency, though he acknowledges the challenges ahead in this endeavor.

“He will have to deal with the reality of the budget, to begin with… But I see that he has a lot of ambition,” former Prime Minister Aminata Touré, who served under outgoing President Macky Sall, told the BBC.

Faye’s agenda includes bolstering judicial independence and addressing unemployment among Senegal’s sizable youth population, issues largely neglected by President Sall, according to Touré.

Other influential political figures, such as former President Abdoulaye Wade, endorsed the 44-year-old candidate shortly before the recent vote.

This marks a significant transformation for Faye, who spent the past 11 months in prison on insurrection charges and operated in the shadow of his ally for many years.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 26, 2024


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