The Guardian

Leftist reformer sworn in as president of Senegal vowing peace and hope

- Agence France-Presse Dakar

Bassirou Diomaye Faye, a leftwing pan-Africanist, has been sworn in as Senegal’s youngest president, pledging systemic change, greater sovereignt­y and calm after years of deadly turmoil.

The 44-year-old, who has never held elected office, swept to a firstround victory on a promise of radical reform just 10 days after being released from prison.

“I swear to faithfully fulfil the office of president of the Republic of Senegal,” Faye said before hundreds of officials and several African heads of state at an exhibition centre in Diamniadio, near the capital, Dakar.

He vowed to defend “the integrity of the territory and national independen­ce, and to spare no effort to achieve African unity”.

The former tax inspector becomes Senegal’s fifth president since independen­ce from France in 1960 and the first to admit to a polygamous marriage. “I am aware that the results of the ballot box express a profound desire for systemic change,” Faye said after the presidenti­al oath. “Under my leadership Senegal will be a country of hope, a peaceful country with an independen­t judiciary and a strengthen­ed democracy.”

Faye was among a group of political opponents freed from prison 10 days before the 24 March presidenti­al ballot under an amnesty announced by the previous president, Macky Sall, who had tried to delay the vote. The formal handover of power with Sall was to take place at the presidenti­al palace in Dakar.

Working with his populist mentor, Ousmane Sonko, who was barred from the election, Faye outlined their priorities of national reconcilia­tion, the cost of living crisis and fighting corruption, in his victory speech. His win was hailed from Washington to Paris, via the African Union and EU.

Faye, a practising Muslim, represents a new generation of youthful politician­s. He does not have a majority in the national assembly and will need to build alliances to pass new laws. The biggest challenge will be creating enough jobs in a nation where 75% of the 18-million population is under 35 and the unemployme­nt rate is officially 20%.

 ?? ?? ▲ Bassirou Diomaye Faye, right, has become Senegal’s youngest president
▲ Bassirou Diomaye Faye, right, has become Senegal’s youngest president

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