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Economy

Bassirou Diomaye Faye Resumes Office as Senegal’s Youngest President

By Adedapo Adesanya

Mr Bassirou Diomaye Faye was sworn in Tuesday as Senegal’s youngest President after sweeping a first-round victory in an election conducted last month in the West African country.

The 44-year-old had never held an elected office before his swearing-in ceremony today but was elected 10 days after he was released from prison.

“Before God and the Senegalese nation, I swear to faithfully fulfil the office of President of the Republic of Senegal,” Mr Faye said at the ceremony attended by dignitaries, including Nigerian President, Mr Bola Tinubu, at the new town of Diamniadio near Dakar, the country’s capital.

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.”

The formal handover of power from the outgoing President Macky Sall will take place at the presidential palace in Dakar.

Mr Faye was among a group of political opponents freed from prison 10 days before the March 24 presidential ballot under an amnesty announced by Mr Sall, who had tried to delay the election.

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

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

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

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

He also wants to leave the regional CFA Franc, which he sees as a French colonial legacy, and invest more in agriculture to reach food self-sufficiency.

However, 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 nation, his democratic victory was welcomed by the international community.

Despite his victory, there are still some hurdles, including not having a majority in the National Assembly and having to look to build alliances to pass new laws or call a legislative election, which will become an option in November.

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

The biggest challenge will be creating enough jobs in a nation where 75 per cent of the 18 million population is under 35 and the unemployment rate is officially 20 per cent.

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

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