Senegal’s outgoing President Macky Sall (links) meets incoming President Bassirou (right). Source: WACSI - Photo: 2024

New Leadership in Senegal Inspires a Continent Seeking Change

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK | 8 April 2024 (IDN) — A firebrand politician and a young tax inspector opposed to French colonialism have taken the government of Senegal by storm, say journalists inspired by the electoral victory of Bassirou Diomaye Faye, 44, and Ousmane Sonko, 49, on a platform of major reform.

Faye and his mentor and now prime minister Ousmane Sonko have pledged to oppose corruption and elitism. “We’ll spare no efforts to reach the objectives we promised the Senegalese people, which is a break with the past, progress, and a definitive change,” Sonko said upon his appointment to the second-in-command government post.

In their campaign manifesto, the duo promised to renegotiate mining, oil and gas contracts.

Both men had been jailed by the incumbent, Macky Sall, seeking to unlawfully extend his term in office. The two were freed just 10 days before the March 24 vote.

Diomaye Faye and Sonko, highly favored by young voters, have inspired comparisons with aging autocrats in neighboring countries.

In Cameroon, 91-year-old Paul Biya has been in power for more than 40 years.

“Faye was two years old when Paul Biya became president” is a favorite line on social media, often accompanied by photos of the youthful Faye next to an aging Biya.

In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni is 79 and looking to pass the post of top army commander to his son.

In Chad, transitional President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno died at age 69 after three decades in command. He sent warm congratulations to the Senegalese people for “having given a real lesson of maturity and democracy to the rest of the world” but in truth, he cared little for democracy or human rights.

His leading opponent, Yaya Dillo, was assassinated by soldiers at the end of February, reportedly at close range.

“Golden Age” leaders

Other “golden age” leaders are Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast at 81; Teodoro Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, 81; Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe, 80; Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, 79; and Abdelmadjid Tebboune of Algeria, 77.

“Congratulations to the Nelson Mandela of Senegal! They left prison and directly won the election,” wrote an impressed Chadian on Facebook.

“Everyone dreams of doing the same in our countries,” said Nourou Dine Saka Saley of ”Les Démocrates of Benin”, in a video posted on TikTok.

Once a thriving multi-party democracy, Benin’s President Patrice Talon, 65, has become increasingly authoritarian after nearly eight years in office.

From Togo: “I am sure the people of Togo will be free one day like in Senegal, but we will have to fight,” said 30-year-old Akouwa Avligan in the capital, Lomé.

Faye’s triumph is a strong reminder that Africa needs a young generation of leaders,” added popular Ugandan musician and opposition leader Bobi Wine. “Not the Museveni generation of tired despots. [IDN-InDepthNews]

Photo: Senegal’s outgoing President Macky Sall (links) meets incoming President Bassirou. Source: WACSI

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate

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