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Senegal’s new president promises ‘profound change’

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By Ngouda Dione

Bassirou Diomaye Faye was sworn in yesterday as Senegal’s fifth and youngest president ever, promising to restore stability and bring economic progress.

The 44-year-old defeated Amadou Ba, the candidate of outgoing President Macky Sall’s ruling coalition, by a landslide in the first round of voting, reflecting high hopes for change in the country of around 18 million people.

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“The results of the election showed a profound desire for change,” Faye said after taking the oath of office at a ceremony he attended with his two wives.

Over a dozen heads of state attended the inauguration, including President Adama Barrow.

The smooth transition was a welcome boost after three years of unprecedented political turmoil in Senegal that had raised concern about democratic backsliding in the coup-prone region of West Africa.

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“Senegal will be a country of hope, at peace, with an independent justice system and a stronger democracy,” Faye said, promising to manage affairs ethically and to build the economy.

“I will work towards preserving peace and national cohesion and make sure we preserve our most cherished resource, our national stability,” Faye said.

Expectations are high as Faye, relatively inexperienced in government affairs, becomes president of a young population frustrated with rising living costs and a lack of jobs in a country set to become an oil and gas producer this year.

The new president has vowed to tackle corruption and introduce a series of economic reforms to prioritise national interests, including the re-negotiation of oil, gas and mineral contracts with foreign operators.

He has not yet said what role Ousmane Sonko, who has been at his heels and joined a meeting between Faye and Sall last week, might play in the new government.

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