Bassirou Faye, 44, sworn in as Senegal’s 5th president

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Forty-four-year-old Bassirou Diomaye Faye was on Tuesday (today) sworn in as the fifth Senegalese president.

He took over from immediate past president Macky Sall in an event witnessed by African leaders in the new town of Diamniadio, near the capital Dakar.

Faye was released from prison less than two weeks before the March 24 election, along with popular opposition figure and mentor Ousmane Sonko, following a political amnesty announced by Sall.

It is the former tax inspector’s first time in elected office.

The election tested Senegal’s reputation as a stable democracy in West Africa, a region that has experienced coups and attempted coups. It followed months of unrest ignited by the arrests last year of Sonko and Faye and concerns that the president would seek a third term in office despite constitutional term limits. Rights groups said dozens were killed in the protests and about 1,000 were jailed.

Faye campaigned on promises to clean up corruption and better manage the country’s natural resources. His victory was seen as reflecting the will of young people frustrated with widespread unemployment and former colonial ruler France, seen by critics to be using its relationship with Senegal to enrich itself.

Such frustrations are common across many countries in Africa, home to the world’s youngest population, where a number of leaders have clung to power for decades.

In his first speech as president-elect, Faye promised to fight corruption and reform the economy.

A practicing Muslim from a small town, Faye has two wives, both of whom were present on Tuesday.

Ahead of the election, he released a declaration of his assets to show transparency and called on other candidates to do the same.

It listed a home in Dakar and land outside the capital and in his hometown. His bank accounts totaled roughly $6,600.

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 summer. Sonko’s supporters say his legal troubles were part of a government effort to derail his candidacy.

While Sall eventually ruled out running for a third term, he then abruptly postponed the election in February with only weeks to go, triggering another wave of protests. That move was blocked by the country’s constitutional court and the election was eventually held weeks later in March.

With agency report