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Bassirou Diomaye Faye Sworn in as Senegal’s Youngest President

Bassirou Diomaye Faye, a left-wing pan-Africanist, took the oath of office on Tuesday as Senegal’s youngest president, following a landslide victory in the first round of elections, just 10 days after his release from prison.
At 44, Faye, who has never held elected office before, was sworn in during a ceremony in the new town of Diamniadio, near Dakar, attended by several African leaders.
In his inauguration speech, Faye pledged to faithfully fulfill his duties as President of Senegal, uphold the constitution and laws, defend national integrity and independence, and work towards African unity.
“Before God and the Senegalese nation, I swear to faithfully fulfil the office of President of the Republic of Senegal,” Faye said before the gathered officials.
He also vowed to “scrupulously observe the provisions of the Constitution and the laws” and to defend “the integrity of the territory and national independence, and to spare no effort to achieve African unity”.
The formal transfer of power from outgoing President Macky Sall will occur at the presidential palace in Dakar.
Faye’s political journey gained momentum when he was among a group of political opponents released from prison under an amnesty announced by Sall just days before the March 24 presidential ballot. Despite campaigning while still in detention, Faye secured a decisive victory.
As Senegal’s fifth president since independence from France in 1960, Faye, a former tax inspector, stands as the first openly polygamous leader in the country.
Teaming up with populist mentor Ousmane Sonko, Faye outlined his priorities in his victory speech, focusing on national reconciliation, addressing the cost-of-living crisis, and combating corruption.
He has pledged to assert national sovereignty over key sectors such as oil, gas, and fishing, and to transition away from the CFA franc, seen as a relic of French colonialism. Additionally, Faye aims to boost agriculture to achieve food self-sufficiency.
Despite his anti-establishment stance, Faye has assured investors of Senegal’s commitment to productive cooperation while signaling a departure from traditional colonial legacies.
After three tense years and deadly unrest in the traditionally stable nation, his democratic victory was hailed from Washington to Paris, via the African Union and the European Union.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday spoke with the president-elect by telephone and “underscored the United States’ strong interest in deepening the partnership” between their two countries, the State Department said.
On the international stage, Faye seeks to bring military-run Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger back into the fold of the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bloc.
Faye’s election marks a new era in Senegalese politics, characterized by a younger generation of leaders and a departure from traditional political norms.
However, he faces significant challenges ahead, including a lack of parliamentary majority and the pressing need to address youth unemployment and migration issues.
The biggest challenge will be creating enough jobs in a nation where 75 percent of the 18-million population is aged under 35 and the unemployment rate is officially 20 percent.
Many youths have considered the future so bleak they have risked their lives to join the waves of migrants trying to reach Europe.
Sall, meanwhile, has been appointed special envoy of the Paris Pact for People and Planet, created to combat poverty, protect the planet and support vulnerable countries.
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