On March 24, President-elect Bassirou Diomaye Faye delivered a solemn speech the day after the presidential election, marking the start of a new era for Senegal. “By electing me President of the Republic, the Senegalese people have chosen rupture. I am committed to governing with humility and transparency, and to fighting corruption at all levels,” he declared. behind a desk, a few hours after a telephone call with Amadou Ba, his main rival and candidate for the outgoing government, who admitted his defeat.

Released ten days ago after eleven months of detention, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, 44 years old and until then unknown to the general public, now finds himself at the gates of power. Appointed as plan B of the African Patriots of Senegal party for work, ethics, and fraternity (Pastef), dissolved in July by the authorities, this former tax inspector was chosen to succeed Ousmane Sonko, the charismatic leader who was barred from running in the presidential election for legal reasons. His rapid rise to the highest offices of state surprised many observers.

Originally from the village of Ndiaganiao, about a hundred kilometers from Dakar, Bassirou Diomaye Faye grew up in a rural environment. A law graduate from Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, he also trained at the National School of Administration.

It was at the General Directorate of Taxes and Domains (DGID) that he crossed paths with Ousmane Sonko, Birame Souleye Diop, and Wally Diouf Bodiang, with whom he co-founded Pastef in 2014. As head of the office of administrative and tax litigation, he distinguished himself by his rigor and dedication to work. “Controlling this office requires a solid technical background in law and taxation because it deals with administrative appeals from taxpayers,” explains Waly Diouf Bodiang, deputy director of legislation at the DGID and member of Ousmane Sonko’s cabinet.

Engaged in the Autonomous Union of Tax and Domain Agents (SAID), founded by Ousmane Sonko a few years earlier, these young tax inspectors also gave birth to Pastef. Bassirou Diomaye Faye gradually established himself as a key element of the movement, notably by being at the head of the executive movement and the diaspora. Architect of the Jotna program in 2019, supported by Ousmane Sonko during the presidential election which saw the latter place third with nearly 16% of the votes, Bassirou Diomaye Faye was able to carve out a place of choice in the Senegalese political landscape.

However, his journey has not been without pitfalls. In March 2021, his mentor Ousmane Sonko was arrested for “disturbing public order”, sparking violent demonstrations and police repression which left several dead according to Amnesty International. It was at that moment that Bassirou Diomaye Faye, a loyal collaborator, was propelled to the forefront of the political scene by taking the helm of the former Pastef after the restructuring of the party.

Although criticized for his lack of experience and his youth during the local elections of January 2022, Bassirou Diomaye Faye responded to his detractors by highlighting his patriotic values and his commitment to the service of the country. “I prefer someone inexperienced but hardworking and patriotic,” he said in response to criticism.

His path to the presidency has been marked by legal obstacles, including his arrest in April 2023 for “contempt of court” and charges of endangering state security and calling for insurrection. Despite these challenges, he has managed to stay the course and play a central role in shaping the agenda for the 2024 election, even from his prison cell.

His return to the political scene as a candidate in the presidential election was greeted by jubilant crowds, a sign of the enthusiasm and hopes placed in him for a new era of governance in Senegal. With a program focused on justice, the fight against corruption, better distribution of wealth, and economic sovereignty, Bassirou Diomaye Faye embodies a political renewal expected by many Senegalese.

Together with Ousmane Sonko, he led a dynamic electoral campaign across the country, generating popular enthusiasm and ending with a closing meeting in his region of origin. On election night, the victory was celebrated across the country, carrying on its shoulders the immense expectations of a people seeking change and hope for the future.

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