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Transition du pouvoir au Sénégal : les perspectives des nouveaux espoirs sont-elles réalistes ?

Kohnert, Dirk (2024): Transition du pouvoir au Sénégal : les perspectives des nouveaux espoirs sont-elles réalistes ?

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The election of Bassirou Diomaye Faye as President of Senegal on March 24, 2024, after a turbulent electoral process, reflects the resilience of Senegal's democratic institutions. It provides an opportunity to strengthen transparent governance and combat inequality. It was the first time since Senegal's independence from France in 1960 that an opposition candidate won already in the first round of presidential elections. Western media tried to show that Faye, who was portrayed as a "left-wing pan-Africanist," wanted to promote authentic African culture to break with post-colonial Western influence. However, the political orientation of the Faye-Sonko duo corresponds to that of the "Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics and Fraternity" (Pastef), an organization founded by Sonko in 2014. Although their formulations sound radical, their main goal is to strengthen the country's national independence. Faye, a graduate of the renowned elite school ENA, likes to see himself as the heir to two Senegalese thinkers who are, a priori, diametrically opposed: Léopold Sédar Senghor and Cheikh Anta Diop. They had a common goal: to make Senegal and the other African countries independent and self-reliant. This nationalist orientation will also bring the new government in Dakar closer to the neighbouring military juntas that rule Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Paris, which has always been keen to preserve its post-colonial presence, including military bases, the CFA franc and the French language, is now forced to follow events. Faye and Songo have promised to renegotiate the terms of the French-backed CFA currency as well as oil and gas contracts with foreign companies. However, the government in Dakar will soon have to adapt to the harsh reality of economic inequality. It must live up to its election promises to fight corruption, put national economic interests first and create jobs for the country's population, notably for the young unemployed. Around 60% of unemployed are under 25 years old. The gap between economic potential and poverty levels is fuelling frustration. There is a sense of exclusion among youth, making them vulnerable to recruitment by extremist groups. The new president also intends to renegotiate fisheries agreements and develop local production for both food and industry to ensure food security while reducing costly imports. However, likely subsidies for essential goods could lead to conflicts with the IMF over program implementation.

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