Bassirou Diomaye Faye: From prison to Senegal’s presidential spotlight

From a Dakar prison to the presidency, Senegal's anti-establishment Bassirou Diomaye Faye embodies the winning charisma of his mentor and opposition figurehead Ousmane Sonko, who endorsed him as his replacement.

"Bassirou is me," said Sonko of his number two, who at the age of 44 is set to become Senegal's youngest head of state after his main rival in the presidential election recognised his victory on Monday.

The former tax inspector has risen in the shadow of the popular firebrand Sonko, who endorsed Faye after he was barred from standing in Sunday's presidential race.

Released from prison on March 14, the allies embarked on a whirlwind campaign tour to the delight of overjoyed crowds, who chanted "Sonko mooy Diomaye, Diomaye mooy Sonko", or "Sonko is Diomaye, Diomaye is Sonko".

Along the trail, Faye – who has never held elected office – promised the Senegalese profound change and left-wing pan-Africanism.

Pitching himself as part of a new generation of politicians, he believes in national sovereignty, a fairer distribution of wealth, and reform of what he sees as a corrupt justice system.

He also vows to renegotiate oil and fishing contracts, and says he is not afraid of creating a new national currency in lieu of the CFA franc – a measure denounced by his government opponent for president Amadou Ba.

Faye's rivals accuse him of leading a group of "adventurers" willing to pursue policies that are dangerous for the country.

'Two sides of same coin'

"They share the same project."

Read more on FRANCE 24 English

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