South Asia and Beyond

Senegal’s Opposition Leader Bassirou Diomaye Faye Wins Polls

 Senegal’s Opposition Leader Bassirou Diomaye Faye Wins Polls

Bassirou Diomaye Faye holds a press conference after winning the presidential elections in Dakar, Senegal, Monday, March 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)

Senegal’s little-known, 44-year-old opposition leader Bassirou Diomaye Faye is all set to become the next president. Unofficial results have shown that Faye had a strong lead over ruling coalition candidate Amadou Ba. The official results are expected in days to come.

Faye was released from prison 10 days before the vote and campaigned on the promise of radical change.

The vote came after months of political turmoil in one of Africa’s most stable democracies after current president Macky Sall tried to postpone the election until December.

Sall congratulated Faye and said that it was a win for the people of the country. Faye who turned 44 ran as an independent and was backed by a senior member of the dissolved Pastef party, led by Ousmane Sonko, the popular figure who many thought would succeed Sall.

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Faye is a former tax collector and was little known until Sonko named him as his heir. His belongs to a small town in central Senegal. He is a practising Muslim, and has two wives. Ahead of Sunday’s election, Faye published a declaration of his assets, and called on other candidates to do the same. It lists a home in Dakar, and land outside the capital and in his hometown. His bank accounts hold roughly $6,600.

Faye has vowed to improve Senegal’s control over its natural resources by promoting national companies to prevent the country from falling into what his campaign called “economic enslavement.” He ran in the place of his close ally Sonko, who was barred from running due to a prior conviction.

The election 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.

With inputs from Associated Press