• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Longest democracy in W. Africa set for youngest president, Faye

Tinubu hails Faye, Senegalese president-elect

Bassirou Diomaye Faye, 44, is set to win the keenly contested presidential election in West Africa’s more stable democracies, as major contender, Amadou Ba conceded defeat.

Faye, the opposition leader who was just released from prison barely 10 days before the poll is set to become Senegal’s president ahead of the coalition’s ruling candidate and former Prime minister Ba.

Ba, 62, had earlier said celebrations were premature, given that 50 percent of the total votes are needed to win, noting that a run-off is unlikely. 

However, before the official announcement is made, the former prime minister has congratulated the 44-year-old on the victory of the first round. 

“In view of the trends in the results of the presidential election and while awaiting the official proclamation, I congratulate President Bassirou Diomaye Diakhar Faye on his victory in the first round,” Ba said in a statement on Monday in the capital, Dakar.

The concession came before the Autonomous National Electoral Commission released any official results from the vote.

Faye, a former tax inspector and a staunch advocate of Pan-Africanism movement, though with no track record in governance, has promised various reforms, especially seeing that the country’s local currency regains its value. 

On Sunday, at least five of the 19 candidates in the race issued statements as results trickled, congratulating Faye, while Ba said held the view that celebration was premature.

Millions took part in a peaceful day of voting to elect Senegal’s fifth president following three years of unprecedented political turbulence that sparked violent anti-government protests and buoyed support for the opposition.

Faye’s emergence marks the end of the outgoing President Macky Sall’s administration who has promoted investor-friendly policies but failed to ease economic hardship in one of the coup-prone West African regions.

Voters had a choice of 19 contenders to replace Sall, who is stepping down after a second term marred by unrest over the prosecution of firebrand opposition leader Ousmane Sonko and concerns that the president wanted to extend his mandate past the constitutional limit.

In a country of over 18 million people, 7.3 million people were registered to vote, and about 71 percent voter turnout was recorded, Senegal’s State TV reported.

Faye stands as the youngest democratically elected president in West Africa, sending a wave of paradigm shift from the old to the new order.