Africa

What is Known About Senegal’s New President-Elect?

Bassirou Diomaye Faye holds a press conference after winning the presidential elections in Dakar, Senegal, Monday, March 25, 2024.

Yet another one of France’s ex-colonies appears poised to shed the remaining rusted vestiges of neo-colonial enslavement. Bassirou Diomaye Faye, Senegal’s main opposition candidate who ran under the motto that “Africa belongs to Africans,” won Sunday’s presidential election.Official results of presidential elections in Senegal are a few days away, yet figures released so far show that riding a wave of soaring anti-French sentiment.Bassirou Diomaye Faye won over 50 percent of the vote, dodging a run-off. The outgoing governing coalition’s candidate, former Prime Minister Amadou Ba, conceded defeat to Faye on Monday.The triumph of this newcomer, who has championed greater African sovereignty, is yet another bitter pill for France to swallow.Echoing anti-French sentiments of other Francophone countries in West Africa, such as Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, Faye has said that France should “leave Africa alone.” © AP Photo / Mosa’ab ElshamyBassirou Diomaye Faye, winner of the presidential elections in Senegal.Bassirou Diomaye Faye, winner of the presidential elections in Senegal.

From Ex-Tax Inspector to President

Faye, a Muslim hailing from a modest rural background, has a master’s degree in law. After graduating from the National School of Administration (ENA) and the magistracy in 2004, he became a tax inspector in the Tax and Estates department.At one point, Faye headed the Taxes and Estates Union created by opposition leader Ousmane Sonko. Faye became general secretary of the PASTEF party founded by Sonko in February 2021. The party was dissolved by authorities in 2023 for “frequently calling on its supporters to insurrectional movements.”Faye’s party, La Coalition Diomaye Président, is an alliance of opposition groups formed after the dissolution of PASTEF. Both Faye and Sonko were still languishing behind bars just weeks before the election.Sonko, a firebrand who came third in Senegal’s 2019 presidential election, was ineligible to run again in 2024 after being arrested in 2023. A raft of criminal charges against him, including plotting an insurrection, sparked huge protests. Faye was also charged with spreading misinformation and contempt of court over a social media post about the legal charges against Sonko.Both men were released on March 14 after an amnesty law was passed. Sonko was barred from running in the elections, but Faye launched a whirlwind campaign under the slogan “Diomaye is Sonko.”The man set to be Senegal’s youngest president pulled the carpet from under the feet of those of his opponents supported by neo-colonial paymasters. In a country mired in political crisis, violent unrest, economic stagnation, 20 percent unemployment and poverty, Faye vowed to bring about profound change.His policies includePan-Africanism and greater national sovereigntyFairer distribution of wealth — as one in three of Senegal’s approximately 17 million inhabitants live in poverty, according to the UN World Food ProgrammeReform of the ‘corrupt’ justice systemRenegotiating mining, gas and oil and fishing contracts signed with foreign companies as Senegal is due to start hydrocarbon production this yearCreating a new national currency while ditching the CFA franc: backed by the French treasury, CFA franc is used by 14 countries, and is pegged to the euroCloser ties between Senegal and Russia© AP Photo / Mosa’ab ElshamyThen-presidential candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye, center, attends a final campaign rally ahead of the presidential elections in Mbour, Senegal, Friday, March 22, 2024.Then-presidential candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye, center, attends a final campaign rally ahead of the presidential elections in Mbour, Senegal, Friday, March 22, 2024.Speaking of his country’s security challenges, Faye told French daily newspaper Le Monde that “so far, Russia is not one of them [security partners]. But we do not exclude any State from cooperation in general.”More and more African nations have been standing up to Western powers and rejecting their continued domination. Earlier in March, military government spokesman Colonel Amadou Abdramane announced that Niger had revoked its military agreement with the United States, which allowed US troops to occupy a base on its territory.Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed France’s decreasing influence in its former African colonies in an interview on March 13. Putin said French president Emmanuel Macron’s recent frenzy of anti-Russian rhetoric was driven by the desire “to avenge the loss of French influence in Africa.”France officially surrendered its last imperial territories in mainland Africa in 1975, but Paris continues to exert economic and political influence in many former colonies.But in August 2022 the Malian government demanded that French troops leave the country. That was followed by several other key states of what the French refer to as “France-Afrique” also ousting the pro-Paris regimes: Guinea and Chad in 2021, Burkina Faso in 2022 and Niger and Gabon in 2023.As neo-colonial regimes came crashing down, increasingly more African leaders have started turning towards Russia. A country that never had any colonies, Russia has been seeking to enhance cooperation with Africa taking into account its historic ties with the continent.Putin has reiterated on numerous occasions that Russia attaches great importance to developing relations with African states and “the development and strengthening of mutually beneficial ties with African countries and their integration associations is one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities.”AnalysisMacron’s Anti-Russia ‘War Rhetoric’ Spawned by Anger Over Losing French Clout in Africa14 March, 07:02 GMT

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