Senegal has inaugurated Africa’s youngest elected leader as president, as the 44-year-old and previously little-known Bassirou Diomaye Faye completed a dramatic ascent from prison to presidency within weeks.

Hours later, Ousmane Sonko, the popular opposition figure who helped catapult him to victory, was named as the country’s new prime minister on Tuesday.

Faye took the presidential oath in front of hundreds of officials and several African heads of state at an exhibition centre in the new town of Diamniadio, near Dakar.

He then returned to the capital, with his motorcade greeted by hundreds of jubilant residents who lined the roads leading to the presidential palace.

This is the first elected office for Faye, a former tax inspector.

His rise has reflected widespread frustration among Senegal’s youth with the country’s direction — a common sentiment across Africa, which has the world’s youngest population and a number of leaders widely accused of clinging to power for decades.

Faye campaigned on promises to clean up corruption. Ahead of the election, he released a declaration of his assets and called on other candidates to do the same.

It listed a home in Dakar and a land outside the capital and in his small hometown. His bank accounts totalled roughly $6,600.

Allies are closely watching Faye’s economic policies following his promise to improve the management of natural resources.

Senegal has made new oil and gas discoveries in recent years, but the population has yet to see any real benefit.

Faye on Tuesday offered reassurance that change would not come at the expense of Senegal’s reputation as a stable democracy in a troubled region.

April 3, 2024

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