Bassirou Diomaye Faye to become Africa’s youngest elected president

(BBC) Few had heard of him a year ago, and now he is set to become president.

Bassirou Diomaye Faye’s extraordinary rise caps a rollercoaster period in Senegalese politics that caught many off-guard.

Months in jail alongside ally and kingmaker Ousmane Sonko ended suddenly, with the pair released the week before the presidential election.

Now Mr Clean, as he’s nicknamed, must get to work on the sweeping reforms he has promised.

“Methodical” and “modest” are words often used to describe the tax collector, who celebrates his 44th birthday on Monday.

Mr Faye fondly recalls his rural upbringing in Ndiaganiao, where he says he returns every Sunday to work the land.

His love and respect for village life is matched by his deep distrust of Senegal’s elites and establishment politics.

“He’s never been a minister and wasn’t a statesman so critics question his lack of experience,” analyst Alioune Tine tells the BBC.

“But, from Faye’s point of view, the insiders who’ve run the country since 1960 have made some catastrophic failures.”

Fighting poverty, injustice and corruption are top of Mr Faye’s agenda. While working at the Treasury, he and Mr Sonko created a union taskforce to tackle graft.

Gas, oil, fishing and defence deals must all be renegotiated to better serve the Senegalese people, says Mr Faye.

He is ushering in an era of “sovereignty” and “rupture” as opposed to more of the same, he told voters, and that is especially true of ties to France.

Senegal’s president-elect says he will drop the much-criticised CFA franc currency, which is pegged to the euro and backed by former colonial power France.

Mr Faye wants to replace it with a new Senegalese, or regional West African, currency, although this will not be easy.

“He will have to deal with the reality of the budget to begin with… But I see that he has a lot of ambition,” former Prime Minister Aminata Touré, who served under outgoing President Macky Sall, tells the BBC.

Strengthening judicial independence and creating jobs for Senegal’s large young population are also key priorities for Mr Faye – neither of which “President Sall paid much attention to and it caught up with him”, Ms Touré adds.

She is not the only political heavyweight to have thrown her support behind the 44-year-old – former President Abdoulaye Wade did the same just two days before Sunday’s vote.

It is a remarkable turnaround for Mr Faye who spent the last 11 months in prison on charges of insurrection, and many more years before that in his ally’s shadow.

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