Bassirou Diomaye Faye will be sworn in as Senegal’s youngest president on Tuesday, pledging reforms to build on his stunning election win only 10 days after he was released from prison.

The 44-year-old pan-Africanist leftwinger has never before held an elected office but several African leaders, including Nigeria’s Bola Ahmed Tinubu, are to attend the ceremony in the new town of Diamniadio, near the capital, Dakar.

The formal handover of power with President Macky Sall will follow at the presidential palace in Dakar.

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

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

The former tax inspector will become the West African state’s fifth president since independence from France in 1960 and the first to openly admit to having a polygamous marriage.

Working with his populist mentor, Ousmane Sonko, who was barred from the election, Faye declared their priorities in his victory speech: national reconciliation, easing a cost-of-living crisis and fighting corruption.

The anti-establishment leader has vowed to restore national sovereignty over key assets such as the oil, gas and fishing sectors.

Faye wants to leave the regional CFA franc, which he sees as a French colonial legacy, and invest more in agriculture with the aim of reaching food self-sufficiency.

He has also sought to reassure investors that Senegal “will remain a friendly country and a sure and reliable ally for any partner that engages with us in virtuous, respectful and mutually productive cooperation”.

After three tense years and deadly unrest in the traditionally stable country, his democratic victory was hailed from Washington to Paris, via the African Union and the European Union.

The US 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, the state department said.

On the international stage, Faye seeks to bring military-run Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger back into the fold of regional Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) bloc.

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

It was a remarkable turnaround after the government had dissolved the Pastef party he founded with Sonko in 2014, with Sall postponing the election.

Faye, a practising Muslim from a humble background with two wives and four children, represents a new generation of youthful politicians. He has voiced admiration for the US ex-president Barack Obama and the South African anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela.

However, Faye and the government he must unveil will quickly face major challenges.

He does not have a majority in the national assembly and will have to look to build alliances to pass new laws, or call a legislative election, which will become an option from mid-November.

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 percent.

Many youths have considered the future so bleak they have risked their lives to join the waves of migrants trying to reach Europe.

Read More: World News | Entertainment News | Celeb News
Guardian

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