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Who is Bassirou Diomaye Faye, Senegal’s Youngest President-elect?

Faye's victory comes only 10 days after being released from jail. At 44, he becomes Africa's youngest democratically elected leader.

The people of Senegal on Sunday, March 24, voted in an election that seems to have turned history around by electing the country’s first youngest president – 44-year-old Bassirou Diomaye Faye, who’s equally Africa’s youngest democratically elected leader at present.

A former tax collector and left-wing advocate, Faye who was released from prison just 10 days before the elections, won by a sweeping majority according to unofficial results. Reports say he had been jailed on charges of defamation and contempt of court, and was awaiting trial.

The governing coalition’s candidate, former Prime Minister Amadou Ba, on Monday conceded defeat to Faye hours after saying he was ready for a run-off vote.

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On the same day, President Macky Sall also congratulated Mr. Faye, saying that the smooth election was a victory for Senegalese democracy.

The elections followed months of political turmoil in one of Africa’s most stable democracies after Macky Sall tried to delay the election until December.

But with Faye’s victory, some experts say “Senegal is in the process of confirming that democracies can self-correct and come out stronger and more resilient.”

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So Who is Bassirou Diomaye Faye, the 44-year-old marking a turning point in Senegal’s democracy?

Faye contested the elections on an independent ticket after his party, Patriots of Senegal (PASTEF) which is led by a key critic of Macky Sall, Ousmane Sonko, was banned last July for causing unrest. The duo, together with supporters led a series of protests against Sall’s government between 2021 and 2023, accusing him of corruption and mismanagement.


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In that month, Sonko and Faye were both jailed on multiple charges for inciting unrest which they said were politically motivated. They were released only a week before the polls after an amnesty law was passed this month.

With Sonko disqualified from the electoral ballot, and his party dissolved, he backed Faye’s independent run and was quoted by local reports to have said “Bassirou is me. I would even say that he has more integrity than me.”

As President-elect what are Faye’s Policies 

Top on Faye’s agenda is tackling poverty, injustice, and corruption.

As president, Faye intends to rid Senegal of the CFA franc inherited from the colonial era, which is pegged to the euro. And so, he proposes introducing a new currency instead, either a new Senegalese, or regional West African, currency. This is of course, a very ambitious policy.

Additionally, he wishes to renegotiate mining and hydrocarbon contracts, as the country is expected to start hydrocarbon production this year. Gas, oil, fishing, and defence deals must all be negotiated to better serve the Senegalese people, says Mr. Faye.

Also top of Faye’s list is fixing the unemployment situation for Senegal’s large youth population – a problem outgoing Macky Sall failed to address. Youth unemployment was a key issue in the election campaign. Three quarters of Senegal’s population is under 35 but graduate jobs remain scarce.

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