Faye sworn in as Senegal’s president, vows to unite Africa

Bassirou Diomaye Faye (L) is sworn in as Senegal's President at an exhibition centre in the new town of Diamniadio near the capital Dakar on 2 April 2024. (John Wessels/AFP)

Bassirou Diomaye Faye (L) is sworn in as Senegal’s President at an exhibition centre in the new town of Diamniadio near the capital Dakar on 2 April 2024. (John Wessels/AFP)

  • Senegal’s Bassirou Diomaye Faye promised to work towards African unity.
  • The 44-year-old was sworn in as president on Tuesday.
  • Faye is the second-youngest African leader, but the youngest to be democratically elected.

Senegal’s Bassirou Diomaye Faye, 44, officially became Senegal’s president on Tuesday – and immediately promised to unite the continent and put his country back on the right track.

A relatively unknown in politics, unlike his mentor, Ousmane Sonko, Faye said he would work towards a united Africa and a Senegal that abided by its laws and institutions.

“Before God and before the Senegalese nation, I swear to faithfully fulfil the office of president of the Republic of Senegal, to observe as well as to scrupulously observe the provisions of the Constitution and the laws, to devote all my forces to defending the constitutional institutions, territorial integrity and national independence, to spare no effort for the achievement of African unity finally,” he said in French.

Victorine Anquediche Ndeye, who served in predecessor Macky Sall’s last Cabinet as the minister of microfinance and the social and solidarity economy, and earlier as secretary of state for housing, said the transition of power was historic.

While her former boss had retired, she said she believed he had a role to play as an elder statesman.

READ | Thousands celebrate release of jailed Senegal opposition leaders

“I firmly believe that President Macky Sall still has much to offer our nation, and I remain optimistic about his ability to continue to serve Senegal in other capacities.

“President Macky Sall is a remarkable man, endowed with infinite brilliance and kindness. His example inspired me to connect with citizens and serve with dedication. My commitment to him has played a crucial role in my current determination to give the best of myself in the responsibilities entrusted to me,” she said in a post on X.

New age meets old age in Africa

Faye became the fifth president of Senegal since independence from France in 1960.

He is the youngest ever to lead Senegal.

In Africa, he’s the second-youngest national leader, older only than Ibrahim Traoré, Burkina Faso’s 35-year-old coup leader.

There are two other heads of state under the age of 50 – Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed, 47, and Andry Rajoelina, 49, in Madagascar.

There are also a host of presidents in Africa in the 50s range, such as Kenya’s William Ruto, 55, Évariste Ndayishimiye, in Burundi, 54, Faure Gnassingbe, 56, in Togo, Gambia’s Adama Barrow, 57, 55-year-old King Mswati III in Eswatini, and King Letsie III in Lesotho, 59.

The old-timers

Faye was only two years old when Cameroon’s Paul Biya, 91, came into power. 

Ivory Coast’s Alassane Ouattara, 82, will be one of Faye’s colleagues in the East African Community, so will Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Nguema Mbasogo, 82, who came into power in 1979, a year before Faye was born.

Nana Akufo-Addo, 80, of Ghana, is due for re-election. If he wins, he has five years to interact at the presidential level with Faye. 

READ | African democracy a ‘ship in troubled waters’, says AU Commission

In southern Africa, there’s Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa, 81, who has been in the top echelons of politics since independence in 1980.

The 71-year-old Cyril Ramaphosa will also be a colleague of Faye’s at the African Union, if the latter wins the elections in South Africa.

In East Africa, Faye will have to interact with the eccentric Yoweri Museveni, 79, of Uganda, who came to power when Faye was only six years old.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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