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Bassirou Diomaye Faye, From Prison To President of Senegal

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Bassirou Diomaye Faye, From Prison To President of Senegal

Just a few months ago, the man set to be sworn in today as Senegal’s next president, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, was sitting in a prison cell, a relatively unknown figure outside his opposition party Pastef.

Everything changed for him when the party’s firebrand leader, Ousmane Sonko, who was also detained, was charged with insurrection in July and barred from running in elections to succeed President Macky Sall.

That cleared the way for Faye to emerge from the shadow of his former boss and eventually from prison, take over the race and on Monday – the day of his 44th birthday – emerge as the victor after his opponent conceded defeat.

Propelled to power from humble roots despite never holding national elected office, Senegal’s president-elect Bassirou Diomaye Faye defied the odds by promising radical change and being guided by a charismatic mentor.

Commonly known as Diomaye, which means “the honourable one” in the local Serer language, he won the March 24 presidential election with 54.3 percent of the vote just 10 days after leaving prison.

His anti-establishment message, the backing of opposition figurehead Ousmane Sonko and his modest personality helped him to a crushing first-round victory over the governing coalition’s candidate.

When 44-year-old Faye is sworn in on Tuesday, he will become Senegal’s fifth and youngest president since independence from France in 1960.

In a victory speech in French and Wolof, Faye said his priorities were “national reconciliation”, easing a painful cost-of-living crisis and fighting corruption.

He has promised left-wing pan-Africanism to restore national sovereignty that he claims has been cheaply sold off, with the oil, gas and fishing sectors all in his firing line.

He is looking at creating a new national currency in lieu of the CFA franc and plans huge investments in the agricultural and industrial sectors to absorb unemployment that officially hovers at around 20 per cent.

On the international stage, Faye seeks to bring military-run Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger back into the fold of the regional bloc ECOWAS (The Economic Community of West African States) and recalibrate partnerships for mutual benefit.

Coming from a modest rural background, Faye, a practising Muslim with two wives who often sports a trademark wide-sleeved boubou robe, embodies a new generation of Senegalese politicians.

President Bola Tinubu will depart Abuja today (Tuesday) for Dakar, Senegal, to attend the inauguration of Senegal’s President-elect, Bassirou Faye. The Presidency revealed this in a statement signed by Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, titled ‘President Tinubu to attend the inauguration of Senegal’s President-elect Bassirou Faye.’

Author: Dr Funmi Beckley

fumbeck@gmail.com

Abeokuta, Nigeria

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