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Diomaye Faye is now Senegal's President: What to expect from the country's new most powerful man?

Bassirou Diomaye was finally inaugurated on April 2, 2024, as the fifth president of Senegal. In form, this election was, of course, historical and symbolic.

This election is historical because Diomaye Faye is, in fact, the youngest elected president of Senegal. This shows that access to state power is not just reserved for people of a certain age and that anyone with ideas and a coherent program could get elected. This election is also symbolic because Diomaye Faye was freed from prison ten days before becoming the most powerful man in Senegal. It shows that having done prison does not impede one from accessing state power, especially if the reason for doing time is politically related, and more importantly, it essentially reinforced Senegal’s reputation as a beacon of African democracy as political power was transferred peacefully.

Although the election of Diomaye Faye is historic and symbolic, it is, however, important to get into the substance of it. What will be the state policy of Senegal under his five-year rule? President Faye appointed Ousmane Sonko as his Prime Minister, and together, they plan on ruling the country on a left-wing policy platform that promotes patriotism and breaking with the status quo.

One of the major policies that the Faye administration planned on enforcing in the next few days was to renegotiate oil and gas contracts with foreign corporations. The goal of renegotiating these contracts is to prioritize Senegal’s national interests. Diomaye Faye and Sonko, in their economic program, affirmed that the country’s wealth was being plundered by multinationals. Thus, they believed that it was necessary to renegotiate these contracts to ensure that the Senegalese people would reap the benefits first.

Another important policy that the Diomaye-Faye administration plans to enforce is the equal redistribution of wealth. While we do not know yet what exact measure President Diomaye Faye will take to implement his redistributive policies, we can infer, based on historical evidence, that he will probably apply either a progressive income tax, implement a land reform policy, or maybe nationalize the most important industries and businesses of the country’s economy. Historical evidence shows, however, that any of these redistributive measures produce sub-optimal outcomes for the people they intend to help.

President Diomaye Faye vowed to replace Senegal’s current currency (the Franc CFA) with a new currency created by the Senegalese government. Indeed, many French-speaking West African countries continue to use the CFA, which stands for Franc des Colonies Françaises d’Afrique, a currency that they’ve been using since gaining independence in the 1960s. President Diomaye Faye decried that the currency had been used by France as a political weapon to maintain and exert direct control over its former colonies. President Faye believes that breaking with the Franc CFA will enable Senegal to access its economic and monetary sovereignty.

It is clear that President Faye will have many challenges to overcome. In particular, fighting corruption, which is one of the major tenets of his political agenda. The newly elected President and his government, therefore, have five years to prove themselves.


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