April 13, 2024

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What is Usman Sonko's role with future President Bassiro Diomaye Faye?

What is Usman Sonko's role with future President Bassiro Diomaye Faye?

Bassirou Diomaye Fay, who will officially take office as Senegal's youngest president on Tuesday, wants to retain the valuable support of his mentor, Ousmane Sonko, who served as an alternate candidate. How will the two work together and what room for maneuver? Answer Components.

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The picture provoked many reactions: Pasiro Diomaye Fay, Osman Sonko and Macky Sall gathered at the Palace of the Republic. On Thursday March 28, Senegal's future president, accompanied by his mentor, met the outgoing head of state for a highly publicized “staff meeting.” A prelude to the transition of power that will take place on Tuesday, April 2, the date that Mackie Sall's mandate ends.

This meeting is symbolic in more ways than one. It is the first to send a message of peace after three years of bitter conflict between the presidential camp, which was dissolved by the authorities last July, and BASTEF (African Patriots of Senegal) representatives. And, above all, the presence of opposition leader Usman Sonko, barring him from contesting the presidential election, reminds us, if more necessary, that Bassiru Diomaye Faye's victory was not a single man's victory.

“Ousmane Sonko does not want to rule in the place of the future president, but he is obviously not going to stay behind because we need to maintain popular enthusiasm around our project,” says Bassirou Diomaye Faye, a close adviser.

“Diomae, this is Osman.”

In November 2023 the Sonko camp nominated the presidential candidate, Bassiru Diome Fay, who is much less known than his mentor. In order to launch the campaign and garner the necessary patronage, the “Diomaye Fe Alliance” is banking on the image of the attractive opposition leader. “Sponsoring Diomaye is sponsoring Sonko”, we read on a poster presenting the faces of the two allies. It became a catchphrase during the campaign, “Diomaye mui Usmane” (“Diomaye, this is Usmane”) chanted tirelessly by their supporters.

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The day after the presidential election, while the trends are declaring him in the lead, Bassiru Diomaye Faye has not forgotten the man who made his election possible. “I want to make a special note for one man. I don't think I need to mention him, that is President Usman Sonko,” he said to the cheers of his supporters, referring to his stand at Basstep.

Usmane Sonko Prime Minister?

After Pasiro Diomaye Fay's victory, speculation is rife as to what place Usman Sonko will occupy within the power. Because the former chief tax inspector and current mayor of Ziguinchor is considered by his supporters to be the head of BASTEP despite the dissolution of the party.

Key among the reforms in the plan is the reorganization of the presidency, which helps reduce the power of the head of state by replacing the prime minister with the vice president. But the change would have to go through a constitutional reform that would make it possible to put both men at the head of the country, so would not be effective immediately.

Meanwhile, Ousmane Sonko may be appointed Prime Minister of Bassirou Diomaye Faye, who, once invested, will form a new government. However, according to some observers, Usman is a dangerous option for Sonko.

“The prime minister is sitting on the ejection seat and it's not said to be a honeymoon for the next five years,” Frances Capatinte, a lecturer at Sciences Po Paris, recalled, despite the good understanding between the two companions. In Struggle and Friends, there is “only one presidential chair.”

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Read moreBasiro Diomaye Faye, close to Sonko, is on the verge of becoming Senegal's youngest president.

Legislative Assembly elections are just around the corner

Others will see Ousmane Sonko as the Speaker of the National Assembly. “If there are early legislative elections, he could be elected and become the second personality of the state,” underlines Gilles Yabi, a Senegalese political scientist and founder of the Wathi think tank.

With a landslide victory against government candidate Amadou Ba, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, however, the rival coalition Benno Bokk Yakaar will have to deal with a National Assembly dominated by Amadou Ba's support. But the constitution allows the president to dissolve the legislature at the end of two years of its establishment, i.e. in five months. This will soon lead to assembly elections.

“We cannot govern and implement our reforms with a hostile majority. So it is clear that we will dissolve the legislature in September,” says Diomae Fay, an adviser to Paschiro.

“This election deadline is vital and we need Usman Sonko's support in this campaign which will open soon,” he underlines. This support was crucial as Pasirue's mentor, Diomae Fay, could keep control of the political apparatus.

“We find it unusual for a president to be head of state and head of his party at the same time as Mackie Road. Ousmane Sonko doesn't have to choose. So he can be our party leader if he wants to,” the adviser notes. .

Read moreSenegal: How to explain Paciro Diomaye Faye's victory in the first round?

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