Apr 3, 2024
3 mins read
3 mins read

Senegal Swears in Africa’s Youngest Elected Leader as President

Senegal Swears in Africa’s Youngest Elected Leader as President

DAKAR, Senegal (NEWSnet/AP) — Senegal inaugurated Africa’s youngest elected leader as president on Tuesday.

Last month’s election tested Senegal’s reputation as a stable democracy in West Africa, a region rocked in recent years by coups and attempted coups.

Bassirou Diomaye Faye, 44, was released from prison less than two weeks before the vote, along with mentor and popular opposition figure Ousmane Sonko, following a political amnesty announced by outgoing President Macky Sall. Their arrests had sparked months of protests and concerns that Sall would seek a third term in office despite term limits. Rights groups said dozens were killed and about 1,000 were jailed.

This is the first elected office for Faye, a former tax inspector. 

Faye campaigned on promises to clean up corruption. Ahead of the election, he released a declaration of his assets and called on other candidates to do the same.

Allies are closely watching Faye’s economic policies following his promise to improve the management of natural resources. Senegal has made new oil and gas discoveries in recent years, but the population has yet to see any real benefit. Analysts warn, however, that renegotiating deals could turn investors off.

The new president was little known until Sonko, a popular opposition figure who came third in the previous election in 2019, named him to run in his place after being barred from the election for a prior conviction. While Sonko’s future role in the new administration is unclear, he is expected to have a prominent role.

Faye was arrested for alleged defamation last year, while Sonko faced a number of charges, including a prolonged legal battle that started when he was accused of rape in 2021. He was acquitted of the rape charges but was convicted of corrupting youth and sentenced to two years in prison last year. Sonko’s supporters say his legal troubles were part of a government effort to derail his candidacy.

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