SAHEL STANDARD Personality Of The Week celebrates Senegal’s President, Bassirou Diomaye Faye

Bassirou Diomaye Faye emerged as Senegal’s President after an unprecedented victory at the presidential election held on Sunday, March 24, 2024.

Faye who was the opposition candidate scored 54.28% of votes cast while former Prime Minister and ruling coalition’s candidate, Amadou Ba, secured 35.79% in results released by the National Commission on the Enumeration of Votes.

The 44-year-old politician was sworn in as the fifth and youngest President of Senegal on April 2, 2024.

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

In 2000, Faye earned his baccalaureate and successfully attained a master’s degree in law and subsequently cleared both competitive exams, enrolling at the National School of Administration (ENA) and the magistracy in 2004.

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

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

He was also 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.

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.

Faye spent more than 11 months in prison for the post that authorities deemed subversive, and regained freedom just 10 days before the presidential election, and still won. He was released alongside his mentor, Mr Sonko. He was one of Sonko’s trusted allies and personal friend and also became popular with Senegalese youths who desired a break from former president Sall’s government.

Following his endorsement by Sonko, who was disqualified from standing in the election due to a defamation conviction ,which he denies,. on 15 March, a day after his release from jail, Faye gathered hundreds of supporters which included Sonko and others also released, at his first public appearance as a presidential contender.

Faye began campaigns including vows to fight the “French economic stranglehold” over Senegal. He also pledged to weed out corruption, restore stability and prioritise economic sovereignty,

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.
At his swearing in, Mr Faye stated that “the results of the election showed a profound desire for change,”.

“Senegal will be a country of hope, at peace, with an independent justice system and a stronger democracy,” he pledged.

He has two wives – Marie Khone and Absa, and four children.

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