Senegal’s Bassirou Diomaye Faye: Meet Africa’s youngest elected president

 Senegal’s Bassirou Diomaye Faye: Meet Africa’s youngest elected president

Senegal recently made history by electing its youngest president, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, who emerged victorious as the opposition leader in the presidential race. 

Faye, born in 1980, brings with him a background as a Senegalese politician and former tax inspector. He succeeds outgoing President Macky Sall, who served two terms and gracefully stepped down. 

The election, marked by millions of Senegalese citizens participating in a peaceful vote on Sunday, comes after three years of turbulence and opposition protests against the previous administration.

Brief profile

Born in 1980, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, a Senegalese politician and former tax inspector, emerged from humble background. Rising through the ranks, Faye served as the general secretary of the now-defunct PASTEF party. 

In the tumultuous landscape of Senegalese politics, Faye found himself thrust into the spotlight as he stepped in to fill the void left by the disqualification of candidate Ousmane Sonko in the 2024 presidential race.

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Faye’s academic journey saw him attain his baccalaureate in 2000, followed by a master’s degree in law. Demonstrating his intellectual prowess, he aced competitive exams, earning coveted spots at both the National School of Administration (ENA) and the magistracy in 2004.

His path then led him to a career as a tax inspector in the Tax and Estates department, where he cultivated a lasting friendship with Sonko, a fellow alum from their alma mater and a future political force in Senegal. This bond would later shape the trajectory of Faye’s political career, propelling him onto the national stage.

Political career

In 2014, their bond solidified within the Taxes and Estates Union, a brainchild of Sonko, the visionary leader behind the formation of PASTEF. Faye, during his tenure in the union, passionately championed the cause of facilitating homeownership for tax and property agents, laying the foundation for their collaboration.

Transitioning into the realm of politics, Faye, initially a peripheral figure in PASTEF’s genesis, swiftly ascended to prominence within the party’s ranks. He emerged as one of the key intellectuals and architects of Sonko’s presidential program in 2019, a pivotal moment where Sonko clinched nearly 16% of the vote, securing a respectable third place finish.

However, fate took a dramatic turn in February 2021 when Faye assumed the mantle of general secretary of PASTEF, following Sonko’s arrest on grave rape allegations. In the wake of this crisis, Faye embarked on a mission to consolidate the opposition forces, a strategy that bore fruit in the 2022 elections with the ‘Liberate the People’ alliance clinching a staggering 56 seats.

As doubts loomed over Sonko’s eligibility for the impending presidential race, PASTEF threw its weight behind Faye in November 2023, endorsing him as its candidate for the 2024 presidential election, despite his incarceration. Despite the dissolution of PASTEF, Faye’s candidacy received validation from the Senegalese Constitutional Council, setting the stage for a captivating political showdown.

On 15th March 2024, a day after his release from incarceration, Faye boldly launched his presidential campaign, drawing endorsement from none other than former president Abdoulaye Wade and his Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS), a move that significantly bolstered his electoral prospects.

Throughout his campaign trail, Faye made bold promises to tackle unemployment, root out corruption, and reassess energy contracts, all encapsulated under the rallying cry of “Diomaye mooy Ousmane,” a bid to harness the youth support garnered by Sonko.

Faye’s stint behind bars in April 2023, followed by his subsequent release in March 2024, emerged as pivotal junctures in his political odyssey. His detention ignited political upheaval, triggering widespread protests and fervent calls for electoral transparency.

In terms of his political doctrine, Faye staunchly advocates for systemic overhaul and left-wing pan-Africanism, with a resolute focus on upholding Senegal’s sovereignty.

He pledges to curtail presidential authority, combat corruption, and enact monetary reforms, all geared towards fostering Senegal’s economic and social progress.

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