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Diomaye Faye will become president of Senegal after years of crisis

Photo: John Wessels Agence France-Presse Diomaye M. Faye, 44, never before held national elective office, will become the fifth president of this West African country of 18 million inhabitants, and the youngest in its history.

Laurent Lozano – Agence France-Presse and Malick Rokhy Ba – Agence France-Presse in Dakar

7:31 p.m.

  • Africa

The anti-system opponent Bassirou Diomaye Faye, still in prison ten days ago, will become the president of Senegal after the recognition on Monday by his main opponent of a victory in the first round of the presidential election which is akin to a political earthquake.

Mr. Faye, who turned 44 on Monday and has never held national elected office before, will become the fifth president of the West African country of 18 million people.

In twelve presidential elections based on universal suffrage, this is the first time that an opposition candidate has won in the first round. An event all the more striking as the victory, apparently motivated by an appetite for change if not a break after difficult years, was announced on a large scale.

“People are thirsty for change when we see what is happening in this country in terms of corruption, non-respect of the law, and the one who most embodied this change is Ousmane Sonko”, the opponent who dubbed Mr. Faye to replace him after being disqualified from the presidential election, El Hadji Mamadou Mbaye, professor and researcher at Saint-Louis University, told Agence France-Presse.

He spoke of “emotional” voting more than reason, on the part of young people and women.

Mr. Faye was widely expected to win Sunday's election based on provisional results published in the media and on social networks. But his victory remained pending recognition by the candidate of power Amadou Ba, in the absence of official publication of aggregate results, which should take a few more days.

Mr. Ba admitted defeat on Monday and called Mr Faye to congratulate him. Outgoing President Macky Sall took to social media to also congratulate Mr. Faye, who has fiercely fought against him in recent years and that “the trends are winning.”

Mr. Faye has remained silent and invisible to the public since Sunday afternoon.

“Everything is going to change”

After three years of agitation and crisis, the election took place without major incident. Despite the tensions of recent years and a last-minute postponement of the election, this is the third time that Senegal has practiced alternation at the polls since independence from France in 1960. , while a succession of coups d'état installed military regimes in its neighbors postponing elections to an indefinite date.

The extreme confusion that preceded the election gave rise to multiple expressions of attachment to democratic practice.

“The commitment of the Senegalese people to the democratic process is part of the foundations of our deep friendship and our strong bilateral ties,” responded US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller .

The election was closely followed abroad, with Senegal considered one of the most stable countries in West Africa shaken by putsch. Dakar maintains strong relations with the West, while Russia strengthens its surrounding positions.

A victory for Mr. Faye could herald a profound systemic challenge.

“It’s a total revolution. Everything will change. On the behavioral side, on the social side, on the financial side, everything will change,” declares Coumba Diallo known as “Queen Biz”, a singer who supports Mr. Faye.

The certainty of victory triggered scenes of jubilation among his supporters in the capital and in Casamance on Sunday evening.

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Mr. Faye promised “the break” by voting alongside his two wives on Sunday in his village of Ndiaganiao (west).

Benefiting from an amnesty law, he came out of eleven months of imprisonment ten days before the election, at the same time as his guide and leader of their dissolved party Ousmane Sonko.< /p>

Mr. Faye wants to be the “candidate for system change” and “left-wing pan-Africanism”. His program insists on the reestablishment of national “sovereignty”, which he believes has been sold off abroad. He promised to fight corruption and better distribute wealth, and also pledged to renegotiate mining, gas and oil contracts concluded with foreign companies.

Senegal could start producing gas and oil in 2024.

Since 2021, Senegal has experienced various episodes of unrest caused by the standoff between Ousmane Sonko and the government, combined with social tensions. Poverty affects at least one in three Senegalese and unemployment affects at least 20% of the active population

The country plunged into one of its most serious crises in decades when President Sall decreed on February 3 a postponement of the presidential election scheduled for three weeks later.

The unrest has left dozens dead in three years and led to hundreds of arrests.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116