Bassirou Diomaye Faye to be the young president elected in Africa


Few had heard of him a year ago, and now he is supposed to be president.

The dramatic rise of Bassirou Diomaye Faye ushers in an unprecedented period in Senegalese politics that has attracted a lot of attention.

Months in prison with ally and kingmaker Ousmane Sonko it ended abruptly, and the two were released a week before the presidential election.

Now Mr Clean, as he is called, has to start making the changes he promised.

“Methodical” and “modest” are words often used to describe the taxpayer, who celebrates his 44th birthday on Monday.

Mr Faye remembers well how he grew up in the village in Ndiaganiao, where he says he returns every Sunday to cultivate the garden.

His love and respect for village life is matched by his distrust of the Senegalese elite and established politics.

“He has never been a minister and he has never been a head of state so the critics suspect he has no experience,” researcher Alioune Tine told the BBC.

“But, from Faye’s point of view, the insiders who have run the country since the 1960s have failed miserably.”

Fighting poverty, injustice and corruption are at the top of Faye’s agenda. While working at the Treasury, he and Sonko formed a task force to deal with the crisis.

Agreements on gas, oil, fishing and security should be negotiated to benefit the Senegalese people, Faye says.

They are ushering in a period of “authority” and “breakdown” in contrast to each other, he told voters, and this is especially true of relations with France.

Senegal’s president-elect has said he will scrap the much-criticized CFA franc, which is pegged to the euro and backed by former colonial power France.

Mr Faye wants to replace it with a new currency from Senegal, or the West African region, although this will not be easy.

“They have to deal with the reality of the budget at the beginning… But I see that they have a lot of ambitions,” said former Prime Minister Aminata Touré, who served under the outgoing president. Macky Salltold the BBC.

Promoting judicial freedom and creating jobs for many young Senegalese are important to Faye – whom “President Sall was very interested in and found”, added Mrs Touré.

He is not the only political tycoon to support the 44-year-old leader – former President Abdoulaye Wade did the same two days before Sunday’s vote.

It’s a remarkable turnaround for Faye who has spent the past 11 months in prison on charges of treason, and for years before that has been in the shadow of his partner.

‘Bassirou and me’

Bassirou Diomaye Faye was announced in February as the “Plan B” candidate, replacing the opposition opposition Ousmane Sonko. “I would say he has more integrity than me,” Sonko said proudly.

Both men founded the now-defunct Pastef party, both men are tax payers, and both men were jailed last year on what they said were politically motivated charges.

Mr Sonko ended up being convicted on two charges, which meant he was barred from running for office, so Mr Faye stepped in.

“Bassirou is me,” Sonko told supporters recently. “It’s two sides of the same coin,” agrees Pastef partner Moustapha Sarré.

This has led to criticism that Mr Faye is an “accidental president”.

Not so, says Tine. But the relationship between the two could lead to a new leadership.

“Perhaps they will establish a tandem and leave a model of national leadership with an all-powerful leader.

“Sonko is the undisputed leader of Pastef – a figure, though… [But] these two have a [dynamic of] disagreements and disagreements. “

In the past, Mr. Faye did not want anything to do with politics. “It never crossed my mind,” he said in 2019, recalling his childhood.

One of Faye’s heroes is the late Senegalese historian Cheikh Anta Diop – whose work is seen as a forerunner of Afrocentrism. Both appear to be left-wing pan-Africanists.

The first results that came in on Monday showed that Faye was expected to win, and people in the capital city of Dakar celebrated by honking car horns and singing loud songs.

Developments in international markets were not encouraging, with Senegal’s dollar-denominated bonds falling to their lowest level in five months. The Reuters news agency said investors are worried that Faye’s administration could end the country’s pro-business policies.

The election was due to take place last month but Mr Sall called it off just hours before campaigning began, sparking deadly protests and a democratic crisis.

Most candidates had little time to prepare after the election day was set – but Faye had just been released from prison a week earlier.

Despite the shortened campaign period, Senegalese citizens insisted they could use their vote, Christopher Fomunyoh – of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs – said. BBC Newsday.

“Senegal wants to prove that the democracies can manage themselves and come out stronger and stronger.”

And the true test of the Senegalese cleaner has just begun.

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