Senegal’s president-elect Faye pledges to tackle corruption, raise living standards

By bne IntelliNews March 26, 2024

Senegal’s President-elect Bassirou Diomaye Faye – a 44-year-old former tax inspector who was released from prison only 10 days before winning the polls on Sunday (March 24) – has pledged to tackle corruption and use the country’s resources to raise living standards.

The ruling coalition’s candidate, Amadou Ba, conceded defeat on Monday, handing an unexpected first-round victory to Faye, a political novice who unsuccessfully ran for mayor of his hometown of Ndiaganiao in 2022.

Faye, a community activist, has promised voters profound change and a presidential programme of left-wing pan-Africanism. He is the hand-picked candidate of opposition politician Ousmane Sonko, also a former tax inspector who had been jailed repeatedly in recent years – like many of outgoing President Macky Sall’s political rivals – and was barred from running himself.

The men had campaigned together under the slogan “Diomaye is Sonko,” promising to fight corruption and prioritize national economic interests. Their message was proved especially popular among young voters in the West African country, where more than 60% of people are under 25 and formal employment is hard to find. Almost a third of Senegal’s youth are unemployed, according to Afrobarometer.

In a speech late on Monday, Faye – who will be the youngest head of state in Africa – pledged to strengthen state institutions and ensure the bounty of newfound oil and gas wealth benefits all of citizens of Senegal, where about a third of the people live in poverty, according to the World Bank.

“I commit myself to govern with humility, transparency, and to fight corruption at all levels,” Faye said, pledging that Senegal “will remain a friendly, safe and reliable ally to anyone who commits with us in virtuous, respectful and mutually productive cooperation.”

The election is set to be the nation’s fourth democratic transfer of power since it gained independence from France in 1960. Faye will be navigating Senegal through a period of significant transition, including the management of newfound oil and gas reserves (a $4.7bn gas development project with BP and an oil project with Woodside energy), while also addressing years of political turmoil.

Unofficial results showed Faye had a strong lead over Ba, with local reports suggesting he had won 56% of the vote. Official results are expected to be announced by the Dakar appeals court on Friday. 

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