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44-year-old Bassirou Diomaye Faye wins Senegal presidential election; becomes Africa’s youngest elected president

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Bassirou Diomaye Faye’s meteoric rise brings an end to a turbulent time in Senegalese politics that took many people off surprise.

Months in jail with ally and kingmaker Ousmane Sonko came to an abrupt end when the two were released a week before the presidential election.

Mr Clean, as he is known, must now begin work on the far-reaching improvements he has promised.

“Methodical” and “modest” are typically used to describe the tax collector, who turns 44 on Monday.

Mr Faye fondly recalls his rural background in Ndiaganiao, where he claims to come every Sunday to cultivate the land.

His fondness and respect for rural life are balanced with a strong skepticism of Senegal’s elites and institutional politics.

“He never served as a minister or a statesman, so critics question his lack of experience,” analyst Alioune Tine told the BBC.

“But, from Faye’s point of view, the insiders who’ve run the country since 1960 have made some catastrophic failures.”

Mr Faye’s key priorities are combating poverty, inequality, and corruption. While working for the Treasury, he and Mr Sonko established a union taskforce to combat corruption.

Mr Faye believes that gas, oil, fishing, and defense accords must all be renegotiated in order to better serve the Senegalese people.

He assured supporters that he is ushering in an age of “sovereignty” and “rupture” rather than more of the same, particularly in terms of ties with France.

Senegal’s president-elect says he would abandon the much derided CFA franc currency, which is tied to the euro and supported by former colonial power France.

Mr Faye wishes to replace it with a new Senegalese, or regional West African, currency, albeit this will be difficult.

“He will have to deal with the reality of the budget from the start… But I see that he is very ambitious,” former Prime Minister Aminata Touré, who served under departing President Macky Sall, told the BBC.

Mr Faye also prioritizes strengthening judicial independence and providing jobs for Senegal’s vast youthful population, which “President Sall paid little attention to and it caught up with him,” according to Ms Touré.

She is not the only political heavyweight to have thrown her support behind the 44-year-old; former President Abdoulaye Wade did so only two days before Sunday’s vote.

It is a stunning reversal for Mr Faye, who has spent the previous 11 months in prison on rebellion charges, as well as many years under his ally’s shadow.


Head of content and Editor-at-large at – Dickson Ofori Siaw is a blunt writer who loves to make his readers see "the other perspectives of a news story". Follow me on Twitter @kwadwo_dost