World Update

Senegal President names opposition leader, Sonko prime minister

Published

on


Left-wing pan-Africanist, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, on Tuesday
became Senegal’s youngest president, pledging systemic change after years of
deadly turmoil and announcing his mentor, opposition figure Ousmane Sonko, as
prime minister.

 

Faye, 44, has never previously held an elected office. He
swept to a first-round victory on a promise of radical reform just 10 days
after being released from prison.

 

He 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.

Advertisement

 

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

 

Just hours later, his new administration appointed firebrand
opposition leader Sonko prime minister.

Advertisement

 

“Mr Ousmane Sonko is named prime minister,” said Oumar Samba
Ba, the general secretary of the presidency, as he read out a decree on the
public television station RTS.

 

Sonko, 49, was at the centre of a two-year stand-off with
the state that triggered bouts of deadly unrest. He was disqualified from
running in the most recent race and picked Faye as his replacement on the
presidential ballot.

 

Advertisement

The former tax inspector is Senegal’s fifth president since
independence from France in 1960 and the first to openly admit to a polygamous
marriage.

 

“I am aware that the results of the ballot box express a
profound desire for systemic change,” Faye said in a brief speech after taking
the presidential oath.

 

“Under my leadership, Senegal will be a country of hope, a
peaceful country with an independent judiciary and a strengthened democracy,”
he added.

Advertisement

 

Faye and Sonko were among a group of opposition politicians
freed from prison 10 days before the March 24 presidential ballot under an
amnesty announced by former president Macky Sall, who had tried to delay the
vote.

 

“I have painful memories of the martyrs of Senegalese
democracy, the amputees, the wounded and the former prisoners,” Faye said
Tuesday, referring to the past three years of political unrest that left dozens
dead and hundreds arrested.

 

Advertisement

“I will always bear in mind the heavy sacrifices made in
order never to disappoint you,” he added.

 

Faye also reiterated to foreign partners “Senegal’s openness
to trade that respects our sovereignty and meets the aspirations of our people,
in a mutually beneficial partnership”.

 

Commonly known as Diomaye, or “the honourable one”, his
promise of radical change won the election with 54.3 percent of the vote.

Advertisement

 

Reconciliation, sovereignty

 

Working with his populist mentor Sonko, Faye’s campaign set
out priorities of national reconciliation, easing the cost-of-living crisis and
fighting corruption.

He has also vowed to restore national sovereignty over key
assets such as the oil, gas and fishing sectors.

Advertisement

 

Senegal is due to start hydrocarbon production later this
year.

 

Faye also wants to replace the CFA franc, which he sees as a
French colonial legacy, with a new common regional currency, and to invest more
in agriculture with the aim of reaching food self-sufficiency.

 

Advertisement

After three tense years in the traditionally stable nation,
his democratic victory has been internationally hailed, by Washington, Paris,
the African Union and the European Union.

 

On the international stage, Faye seeks to bring military-run
Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger back into the fold of the regional Economic
Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bloc.

 

On Tuesday, he urged “more solidarity” between African
countries “in the face of security challenges”.

Advertisement

 

The military regimes in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea all
sent representatives to Diamniadio, including Guinean president General Mamady
Doumbouya.

 

Burkina Faso’s leader Captain Ibrahim Traore wrote on X,
formerly Twitter, that Faye’s mandate represented a “symbol of a new era for an
uninhibited, free and sovereign Africa”.

 

Advertisement

He added he was ready to work together on “the renovation of
sub-regional and international cooperation”.

 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the
inauguration “a testament to the Senegalese people, that they fought for their
right to vote”.

 

New generation of
politicians

Advertisement

 

A practising Muslim from a humble background with two wives
and four children, Faye represents a new generation of youthful politicians.

 

He has voiced admiration for US ex-president Barack Obama
and South African anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela.

 

Advertisement

However, Faye and the government he will shortly lead face
major challenges.

 

The biggest appears to be creating enough jobs in a nation
where 75 percent of the 18-million population is aged under 35 and the
unemployment rate is officially 20 percent.

 

Faced with such dire economic prospects at home, many young
Senegalese have chosen to risk their lives to join migrants trying to reach
Europe.

Advertisement

 

AFP



Source link: Nigerianeye

Trending

Exit mobile version