President Tinubu joins other African presidents at Faye’s inauguration

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President Bola Tinubu on Tuesday joined other leaders in West Africa to witness the significant inauguration of Bassirou Diomaye Faye, a left-wing pan-Africanist, as Senegal’s youngest president.

In his capacity as the Chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Government, the Nigerian President attended the event.

During the inauguration, Faye, who had never held an elected office before, pledged systemic change after years of deadly turmoil.

He also announced his mentor, opposition figure Ousmane Sonko, as prime minister. Faye, aged 44, secured a first-round victory on a promise of radical reform just 10 days after being released from prison.

Taking the presidential oath in front of hundreds of officials and several African heads of state at an exhibition centre in the new town of Diamniadio, near Dakar, marked the momentous occasion.

Following the ceremony, he returned to the capital, where his motorcade was greeted by hundreds of jubilant residents lining the roads leading to the presidential palace. Symbolically, his predecessor, Macky Sall, handed Faye the key to the presidential headquarters before leaving the palace.

“Before God and the Senegalese nation, I swear to faithfully fulfil the office of President of the Republic of Senegal,” Faye had said earlier in the day.

Just hours later, his new administration appointed firebrand opposition leader Sonko prime minister.

“Mr Ousmane Sonko is named prime minister,” said Oumar Samba Ba, the general secretary of the presidency, as he read out a decree on the public television station RTS.

Sonko, aged 49, found himself at the heart of a two-year standoff with the state, leading to periods of deadly unrest. He was disqualified from participating in the latest electoral race and nominated Faye as his replacement on the presidential ballot.

The former tax inspector, now Senegal’s fifth president since gaining independence from France in 1960, is also the first to openly acknowledge being in a polygamous marriage.