Bassirou Diomaye Faye elected president of Senegal: Victory of a determined youth

Bassirou Diomaye Faye, elected president of Senegal. Screenshot from video “Le premier discours de Bassirou Diomaye Faye” on the TV Monde YouTube channel. Fair use.

After a period of demonstrations caused by the delay of the original election date, the people of Senegal elected a new president in the presidential elections held on March 24, 2024. Preliminary results showed that Bassirou Diomaye Faye had been elected as the new president of the country for the next five years.

However, at first, Bassirou Diomaye Faye had little chance of participating in the elections as he had been imprisoned since April 2023 on charges of defamation and contempt of court. In July 2023, his mentor and the president of the PASTEF party, Ousmane Sonko, was also imprisoned for rape and defamation. These two political figures are members of the opposition party, the Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics, and Fraternity (PASTEF), which is popular among young people (more than 70 percent of the population) who are tired of a government that does not offer job prospects.

On several occasions, the PASTEF party had called on the population to express their frustration with President Macky Sall's regime. These protests, often met with repression, had at times resulted in fatalities and injuries in a climate of social and political tension. In July 2023, the government dissolved PASTEF for frequently calling on the population to engage in “insurrectionary movements.”

Even before the electoral process was set in motion on October 31, 2023, Sonko was excluded from the electoral lists and was therefore unable to run as a candidate. His party then opted for a Plan B, which positioned Bassirou Diomaye Faye as the new presidential candidate.

For more, read in French: In Senegal, an opposition party has named Bassirou Diomaye Faye as its new presidential candidate for the 2024 election.

Despite being in prison, Bassirou Diomaye Faye's candidacy was accepted by the Constitutional Council. When the electoral campaign began on March 9, he was still behind bars, along with Sonko. However, following the promulgation by President Macky Sall of a general amnesty law that was passed by parliament on March 7, they were released on March 14 and were able to participate in the electoral campaign and present their programme to the Senegalese population.

The day after the March 24 election, preliminary results indicated a win for the PASTEF candidate in the Senegalese presidential election. The National Electoral Commission has the authority to announce the provisional results before they are validated by the Constitutional Council. The electoral commission announced that Bassirou Diomaye Faye had won the election with a large margin, receiving 54.28 percent of the votes. His closest competitor, Amadou Ba, the candidate of the ruling party, received 35.79 percent of the votes. The turnout for the election was 61 percent.

This video report by France24 provides details of the election results:


A sigh of relief from the youth

At the announcement of Faye's victory, the youth let out a sigh of relief. For many, the break with the old regime was now official, and they can hope for positive changes. Some shared their opinions on the candidate of the youth's victory with France24:

Following the election, congratulations poured in from all directions. Amadou Ba, the candidate of the regime, made sure to extend his heartfelt congratulations to the new president. On his account (formerly Twitter), he wrote:

Given the preliminary results of the presidential election and awaiting the official announcement, I would like to congratulate President Bassirou Diomaye Diakhar Faye on his first-round victory. I pray that the Almighty grants him the energy and strength necessary to fulfil this high office in our country. I wish him much success and prosperity for the well-being of the Senegalese people.

—Amadou BA (@amadou_ba_) March 25, 2024

The outgoing president, Macky Sall, also did the same:

I applaud the successful conduct of the presidential election on March 24, 2024, and offer my congratulations to the winner, Mr Bassirou Diomaye Faye, who is projected to win. This is a triumph for Senegalese democracy.

—Macky Sall (@Macky_Sall) March 25, 2024

Senegal's new president has received congratulations from other heads of state outside the country. Patrice Talon, president of Benin, posted a message on his X account:

I extend my warm congratulations to President @DiomayeFaye on his election and, at the same time, my wishes for success in serving the Senegalese people.

—Patrice TALON (@PatriceTalonPR) March 26, 2024

Adama Barrow, Gambia's president wrote on his X account:

I congratulate Mr Bassirou Diomaye Faye for a victorious election & commend the People of the Rep. of #Senegal for the peaceful conduct of the election. I am optimistic that the cordial relationship between The #Gambia and Senegal will be further strengthened <President-Elect.

—President Barrow (@BarrowPresident) March 25, 2024

Mamadi Doumbouya, president of Guinea, posted on X:

Mr. President and dear brother,
On behalf of the sovereign people of Guinea and in my personal capacity, I extend my warmest congratulations to you, your team, and the entire Senegalese people. Your brilliant election to the highest office in your country is a testament to the maturity and high sense of responsibility of the Senegalese people in placing their trust in the youth. It is also an illustration of a liberated, open-minded African youth capable of taking control of their destiny.
I look forward to collaborating with you in a pan-African spirit for the greatest happiness of our peoples.

—Président Mamadi Doumbouya (@presi_doumbouya) March 25, 2024

Togolese politician Nathaniel Olympio expressed his admiration for the determination of Senegalese youth, stating:

The brilliant election of Bassirou Diomaye Faye - in tandem with Ousmane Sonko, whose leadership is an example - is a victory of the Senegalese people over conservatism. And beyond the Senegalese, it is a victory for all citizens of French-speaking ECOWAS countries who aspire to a space of freedom. We are in awe of this amazing story being written before our eyes by the Senegalese people, carried forward by their youth. Congratulations!

—Nathaniel Olympio (@nathanielolymp) March 25, 2024

Following this victory, Denis Mukwege, who was unsuccessful in the 2023 presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo, wished to emphasise that alternatives remain possible in Africa, posting:

Congratulations to @DiomayeFaye on his election as President of the Republic of #Senegal, which sends a clear message of hope: democratic alternance is achievable in Africa!

—Denis Mukwege (@DenisMukwege) March 26, 2024

On X, Emmanuel Macron, the French president, also extended his wishes for success to Bassirou Diomaye Faye:

Congratulations to Bassirou Diomaye Faye on his election as President of the Republic of Senegal.

I extend my best wishes for his success and look forward to working with him.

—Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) March 25, 2024

However, comments under the French president's post demonstrate the determination of young Africans to cease all collaboration with the former colonial power.

The stakes

Over the next five years, the new president will have to face several major challenges, including the revision of the fishing agreement established by Macky Sall with the European Union. This agreement deprives Senegalese youth of fishing activities and threatens the country's economic and food sovereignty, as indicated in this publication by Tv5monde on X:

Senegal: Will the election of Bassirou Diomaye Faye lead to a revision of the fishing agreement with the European Union?

— Le journal Afrique TV5MONDE (@JTAtv5monde) March 26, 2024

Other major challenges include the country's reconstruction, the issue of the CFA franc, and the consolidation of ECOWAS. In his first speech, reported in this video by Radio France Internationale (RFI), Faye outlines the priorities of his mandate:

While awaiting the validation of Bassirou Diomaye Faye's election as president of Senegal by the Constitutional Council on March 29, the Senegalese youth celebrated the end of Macky Sall's regime.

Further reading in French: Senegal, a democratic model in need of reinvention

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