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Poised to become Senegal's next President, Diomaye Faye vows to “govern with humility”

Opposition leader Bassirou Diomaye Faye holds a press conference in Dakar, Senegal, Mar. 25, 2024.   -  
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Mosa'ab Elshamy/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.


Little-known, 44-year-old opposition leader Bassirou Diomaye Faye was congratulated Monday (Mar. 25) by Senegal's incumbent president Macky Sall.

He is posed to become the west African nation's next president, less than two weeks after being released from prison to run in the election.

According to the Senegalese News Agency (APS), the counstitutional council will announce the results starting April 3rd. 

The former prime minister who was the other frontrunner, and who was backed by incumbent President Sall, conceded defeat based on preliminary results.

A move, welcomed by Diomaye Faye: "I salute the approach of the other candidates who, without exception, have honoured a very Senegalese tradition without even waiting for the official results to be announced by the authorised state bodies. Their congratulatory messages are eloquent testimony to their greatness,” he said during an adress in Dakar on Monday (Mar. 25).

Dioamaye Faye promised to rule with humility and fight corruption. 

He also vowed to advance Africa's political and economic integration and also pledged reliability to Senegal's partners.

"I would like to say to the international community and to our bilateral and multilateral partners that Senegal will always honor it’s commitments. It will remain a friendly country and a secure and reliable ally for any partner that engages with us in virtuous, respectful and mutually productive cooperation," he told a packed room.

Faye’s performance reflected frustration among youth with high unemployment and concerns about governance in the West African nation.

A protégé of Ousmane Sonko, Faye has vowed to protect Senegal from corruption and interference from foreign powers.

From prisoner to president

Sonko, who was also released on March 14 after months in prison to jubilant celebrations in the capital, was barred from running due to a prior conviction and Faye ran in his place.

The election on Sunday (Mar. 24) followed months of unrest ignited by Faye and Sonko's arrest last year, and concerns that the president would seek a third term in office despite constitutional term limits.

The violence shook Senegal’s reputation as a stable democracy in a region that has seen a wave of coups. Rights groups said dozens were killed in the protests, while some 1,000 people were jailed.

Faye is a former tax inspector and was little known until Sonko named him as his heir.

His roots lie in a small town in central Senegal. He is a practising Muslim and has two wives.

Faye had been jailed on various charges, including defamation.

More than 7 million people were registered to vote in a country of roughly 17 million. To win, candidates had to secure more than 50% of the vote.

Sunday's election was also the first without a sitting president on the ballot after the introduction of term limits that barred Sall from seeking a third term.

The civil society observer group known as COSCE said voter turnout was over 61%.

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