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44-year-old Faye emerges as Senegal President 10 days after returning from prison

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44-year-old Faye emerges as Senegal President 10 days after returning from prison

Bassirou Diomaye Faye, a 44-year-old individual, has been declared as the President-elect of Senegal following a successful victory in the country’s recent presidential election.

The election, which held on Sunday, March 24, 2024, saw Faye competing against 18 other candidates in the aftermath of three years of turmoil and protests against the then-incumbent president, Macky Sall.

After a turbulent period, the opposition leader emerged triumphant in Senegal’s presidential election, clinching approximately 53.7% of the votes cast. Faye’s closest rival, former Prime Minister and candidate of the ruling coalition, Amadou Ba, secured 36.2% of the votes based on counts from 90% of the polling stations in the initial round of voting.

As a candidate needs an absolute majority of 50% to win in the first round, Faye’s victory of over 50% has negated the necessity for a run-off vote. Ba and other presidential hopefuls gracefully accepted defeat, with Ba reaching out to Faye earlier in the day to concede following the elections, marking Faye and Ba as the top contenders in the presidential race.

“In light of presidential election result trends and while we await the official proclamation, I congratulate… Faye for his victory in the first round,” Ba had said in a statement.

Outgoing President Macky Sall offered his congratulations to Faye shortly before the electoral commission posted its results, writing: “I salute the smooth running of the presidential election of March 24, 2024 and congratulate the winner, Mr. Bassirou Diomaye Faye, who the trends show as the winner. It is the victory of Senegalese democracy.”

Giving his first acceptance speech, Faye said, “In electing me, the Senegalese people have decided on a break with a past. I promise to govern with humility and transparency.”

With the landslide victor, the 44-year-old politician is set to become the fifth President of Senegal on April 2, 2024, when he will be sworn in.

READ ALSO: Tinubu lauds Senegalese President Macky Sall for not seeking third term

Here are 15 things to know about Faye:

Faye was born on 25 March 1980 in Ndiaganiao in the western department of M’Bour, Thies, Senegal.

Faye completed his baccalaureate (university bachelor’s degree) in 2000. He went on to earn a master’s degree in law and passed competitive exams to enroll at the National School of Administration (ENA) and the magistracy in 2004.

After graduation, he chose a career as a tax inspector in the Tax and Estates department, where he met Sonko, a fellow alum from the same school.

He was the former General-Secretary of the dissolved political party, PASTEF, (Patriotes africains du Sénégal pour le travail, l’éthique et la fraternité), meaning the African Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics and Fraternity, founded in 2014 by Ousmane Sonko.

Faye and Sonko‘s friendship grew closer in 2014, in the Taxes and Estates Union, created by Sonko, and at this time, Faye campaigned to facilitate homeownership for tax and property agents.

Sonko, PASTEF leader and Senegal’s main opposition leader endorsed Faye as a presidential candidate in November 2023, following uncertainty over the possibility of Sonko contesting, despite the dissolution of PASTEF several months earlier.

Faye spent more than 11 months in prison for a Facebook post that authorities deemed subversive, and regained freedom just 10 days before the presidential election, and still won.

Following his endorsement by Sonko, on 15 March 2024, a day after his release from jail, Faye gathered hundreds of supporters at his first public appearance as a presidential contender.

Former President Abdoulaye Wade and his Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) endorsed Faye on the same day, in a boost to his chances of winning the election.

During the presidential campaign, Faye promised to create jobs, campaigned strongly against corruption, and vowed to reexamine energy contracts, running under the slogan “Diomaye mooy Ousmane”, which means “Diomaye is Ousmane” in Wolof, as he hoped Sonko’s charisma and popular would appeal to Senegal’s youth for his victory at the pools.

He was one of Sonko’s trusted allies and personal friends and also became popular with Senegalese youths who desired a breakaway from Sall’s government.

On April 14, 2023, Faye was apprehended as he exited his tax and property office on Rue de Thiong in Dakar, and was consequently placed under police custody for charges including “spreading false news, contempt of court, and defamation of a constituted body” following a social media post he made.

When Faye, Sonko, and others were released from prison by incumbent President Macky Sall on 14 March, days before the election, Faye began campaigns including vows to fight the “French economic stranglehold” over Senegal.

Faye is a tax inspector and lawyer by profession, and has two wives – Marie Khone and Absa, with four children.

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