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Faye sworn in as Senegal’s youngest president

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Bassirou Diomaye Faye, Senegal’s once jailed opposition candidate, on Tuesday was sworn in as the nation’s fifth and youngest president ever, promising to restore stability and bring economic progress.

“Before God and the Senegalese nation, I swear to faithfully fulfil the office of President of the Republic of Senegal,” the 44-year-old said before hundreds of officials and several African heads of state at an exhibition centre in the new town of Diamniadio near the capital Dakar.

The former tax inspector 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.

“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, Reuters reported.

Over a dozen heads of state and regional representatives attended the inauguration, including Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.

Also, the military juntas of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger also sent representatives.

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, where juntas have seized power and cut ties with traditional Western allies in favour of Russia.

“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.

Expectations are high as Faye, relatively inexperienced in government affairs, takes over the baton of leadership 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.

Though, president Faye 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.

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