Meet Bassirou Diomaye Faye, the New President of Senegal

Meet Bassirou Diomaye Faye, the New President of Senegal 

Bassirou Diomaye Diakhar Faye is a Senegalese politician with a background as a tax inspector. He became the youngest and 5th President of the Republic of Senegal after winning the March 2024 presidential election at just 44 years old. Faye currently serves as the general secretary of PASTEF, Senegal's ruling political party.

Early Life and Background

Bassirou Diomaye Faye was born on March 25, 1980, in the village of Ndiaganiao in Senegal's western M'Bour department. He hails from a working-class family. His father, Samba Faye, was a longtime member of the Socialist Party of Senegal. His grandfather served in the Troupes coloniales during World War II and was sentenced to prison after disputes with colonial authorities over establishing a local school.

Faye attended local schools in Ndiaganiao and M'Bour for primary, middle, and high school, earning his baccalaureate in 2000. He obtained a master's degree in law from the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar. Faye then completed competitive exams, gaining admission to the National School of Administration and Magistracy program in 2004. He chose a career as a tax inspector after graduation.

Rise in Politics

After becoming a tax inspector, Faye met Ousmane Sonko, who led the Autonomous Union of Tax and Domain Agents trade union. In 2014, when Sonko founded the PASTEF political party, Faye joined and ascended to executive leadership roles, becoming a key strategist. He helped shape Sonko's platform for the 2019 presidential election, where Sonko placed third with 16% of votes.

In February 2021, following Sonko's arrest, Faye was appointed PASTEF's general secretary. He was arrested himself in April 2023 on charges including defamation and contempt related to comments about Sonko's legal proceedings, according to VOA News. PASTEF was dissolved that July.

Despite being jailed, PASTEF endorsed Faye as an independent candidate for the 2024 presidential election after Sonko was disqualified. Released in March 2024, Faye campaigned on anti-corruption efforts, renegotiating resource contracts, judicial reforms, and enhancing military capabilities. His "Diomaye is Sonko" slogan capitalized on Sonko's popularity among youth.

In Senegal's March 24, 2024, presidential election, Faye won 54.28% of the vote, becoming the youngest elected President in the country's history and its first opposition candidate to win outright since independence. The Constitutional Council confirmed his victory on March 29.

Bassirou Faye was sworn in on April 2, 2024, appointing Sonko as prime minister. He quickly ordered audits of the mining, oil, and gas sectors, signaling intentions to renegotiate terms with corporations in these industries. Faye advocates system change through left-wing Pan-Africanism, fighting corruption, potential monetary reforms like adopting a new currency, enhancing judicial independence, combating inefficiency in the military, and renegotiating energy contracts for more equitable distribution of profits.

Personal Life

Faye practices polygamy as a devout Muslim. His first wife since 2009 is Marie Khone Faye, with whom he has three sons and one daughter. In 2023, he took a second wife, Absa Faye, though they have not had children yet. Faye is close friends with Ousmane Sonko, even naming one of his sons Ousmane.

Ahead of his presidency, Faye portrayed himself as a man of the people, highlighting his humble roots and modest trappings of wealth, such as his asset holdings. However, his decisive electoral victory has rapidly elevated him to one of Senegal's most powerful and influential figures.

Political Positions, Policies and Agenda

President Diomaye understands that he represents the voice of millions of young Africans who have felt marginalized across the continent. He has already proclaimed his belief in left-wing Pan-Africanism and a system overhaul to catalyze Senegal's socio-economic transformation. Of course, such an ambitious agenda will call for a raft of economic and regulatory reforms.

Faye kicked off his presidency by ordering a top-down review of the nation's mining, oil, and gas sectors. During this audit process, it is highly likely that his regime will revisit the existing 50-50 revenue-sharing agreement for gas with multinational firms like Kosmos and BP, as well as the neighboring government of Mauritania.

However, the reforms are not limited to extractive industries. Companies that supply sports betting and online casino games will likely face more stringent regulations and oversight, while importers and manufacturers may have to adapt to revised customs and tax codes under Faye's tenure.

Faye is also keen on eradicating the endemic political corruption and misuse of public funds, which he believes has severely undermined Senegal's economic development. Seeking greater autonomy, he has raised the possibility of removing the CFA franc as the official currency if reforms cannot be implemented regionally first.

On the military front, Faye's defense plans include combating corruption within the military ranks, raising morale through increased salaries, particularly for lower-ranking personnel, and preventing the armed forces' involvement in domestic politics. He also aims to bolster strategic air transport and rapid deployment capabilities by procuring aircraft like the C-130.

President Diomaye also wants to establish an independent judiciary outside executive interference. He advocates transitioning from the existing Constitutional Council to a constitutional court as the apex of the judiciary. He also proposes whistleblower protections, abolishing discretionary political funds for the executive branch, and enhanced accountability for special operations and procurements.

Net Worth and Wealth

During his campaign, Faye released a declaration stating he owns a home in Dakar, land holdings outside the capital and in his native Ndiaganiao village, and around $6,600 across his bank accounts. While major wealth trackers like Forbes have not reported an exact net worth figure, analysts estimate Faye's net worth ranges between $1 million and $5 million from his decades-long public service and political activities. Some political observers have sought to present Faye as a self-made man in touch with the working class despite his newly acquired wealth and stature as President.

Post a Comment