Bassirou Diomaye Faye Makes History as Senegal’s Youngest President

Bassirou Diomaye Faye became Senegal’s youngest president, Tuesday, pledging systemic change, greater sovereignty and calm after years of turmoil in the country.

The ceremony took place in the town of Diamniadio, near the capital Dakar Tuesday morning before Faye headed for the presidential palace for the formal handover of power by the former president, Macky Sall.

He then gave his first official presidential speech, which began at 13:00.

“Before God and the Senegalese nation, I swear to faithfully fulfil the office of President of the Republic of Senegal,” the 44-year-old said before hundreds of officials and several African heads of state at an exhibition centre in the town.

He renewed his promise of “systemic change” and “greater sovereignty”.

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”.

Now officially President of #Senegal. Bassirou #Diomaye Faye takes oath of office. At 44, he is Senegal’s youngest president ever, and the country’s fifth since independence in 1960.– Bate Felix (@BateFelix) April 2, 2024

International support

Among the guests were Nigeria’s President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as well as the leaders of the juntas in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, all of whom have said they will be breaking away from West Africa’s regional economic group Ecowas.

After three tense years in the traditionally stable nation, Faye’s democratic victory was hailed internationally.

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.

Faye has voiced admiration for international leaders like former US president Barack Obama and South African anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela.

He also seeks to bring Sahel’s military-run Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger back into the fold of Ecowas.

Commonly known as Diomaye, or “the honourable one” in his local Serer language, he won the March 24 election with 54.3 percent of the vote.

The remarkable turnaround came after the government had dissolved his the party, Pastef, he co-founded last July with Sonko in 2014, before Sall decided, in February, to postpone the election.

The 44-year-old pan-Africanist becomes the youngest leader ever in charge of Senegal, and the youngest currently in power in Africa.

He has never before held an elected office before.

Faye’s campaign was launched whilst he was still in detention.

He was one of a group of political opponents freed from prison 10 days before the March 24 presidential ballot under an amnesty announced by Sall who had tried to delay the vote.

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