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Senegal’s New President: Bassirou Diomaye Faye

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Bassirou Diomaye Faye was elected as Senegal’s fifth president on 25 March 2024, and sworn  as Senegal’s President at an exhibition centre in the new town of Diamniadio near the capital Dakar on April 2, 2024. Incumbent president Macky Sall and his candidate, former prime minister Amadou Ba, were both quick to congratulate the opposition candidate on his victory when the results came out.

This has been a major – and fast – turn of events for Faye (commonly called “Diomaye”), who was in prison just 10 days before the election. Faye was backed by the popular opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, who was deprived of his electoral rights for five years due to a prior conviction. Sonko received a six-month suspended prison sentence for allegedly defaming tourism minister Mame Mbaye Niang.

Faye, who has never held elected office, was a little-known candidate who emerged from Sonko’s shadow. Having researched young Senegalese politicians and Senegal’s contemporary political scene we wanted to provide some insights into who Faye is, and his unconventional rise to power.

A Native of Rural Senegal

The father-of-four was born into a modest family of farmers in remote Ndiaganiao, a village 150 kilometres (93 miles) from the capital Dakar  on 25th March 1980, where he received his primary education. He continued his middle and secondary education in Mbour, south-east of Dakar, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 2000. Faye pursued higher education at Dakar’s Cheikh Anta Diop University, and obtained a master’s degree in 2004.

Following this, he took competitive entrance exams for the police officers’ academy, the magistrates’ academy and the École Nationale d’Administration (the elite leadership training school). While he did not pass the exam for the police officers’ academy, he succeeded in the other two exams. Admitted to the magistrates’ examination, he decided to withdraw, opting instead for the leadership training school. He specialised in taxation and went on to join the Direction Générale des Impôts et Domaines (tax and land administration) in 2007.

His Career

When Faye joined the tax administration, he was an active member of the newly formed Syndicat autonome des agents des impôts et domaines (Autonomous Union of Tax and Domain Agents). This was led by its founder and secretary general, Ousmane Sonko (from April 2005 to June 2012). Faye was initially the head of claims and later became the secretary general after Sonko’s departure, although Sonko remained at his side as honorary secretary general for two years (2012-2016). Drawing on their trade union experience, Faye, Sonko and other young civil servants went on to create the African Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics and Fraternity (Pastef) party in 2014.

Faye successively held the positions of member of the steering committee, president of the Mouvement national des cadres patriotes et des diasporas (National Movement of Patriot Cadres and Diasporas) and secretary general, becoming the party’s second-in-command, from October 2022.

Ndingler’s Rising Star

While Faye is mostly known for being in Sonko’s shadow, he’s famous in his region for supporting a vulnerable community in a land dispute. This was between the Ndingler villagers (within the Ndiaganiao area from which Faye hails) and the Senegalese company Sedima, run by businessman and industrialist Babacar Ngom. Faye had denounced land grabbing by Sedima, which occurred without any compensation for “peasant populations”.

The Other Side of the Coin

The fame he gained from this widely publicised battle didn’t, however, secure him a victory in his stronghold during local elections in January 2022. He lost in Ndiaganiao to the regime’s candidate. His political ambitions were further thwarted when his nomination to the national candidate list for the July 2022 parliamentary elections was invalidated due to issues with the candidate lists he belonged to. These two successive setbacks seemed to seal his fate as an opponent of local and national stature.

Following the law suit brought against Sonko, Faye was imprisoned. He was accused of attacking the judiciary when he criticized the Dakar Court of Appeal’s decision to close Sonko’s case without giving him the chance to appeal. Faye was also being vocal about a trial that would make Sonko ineligible for the 2024 presidential elections. On 14 April 2023, he was charged with “contempt of court, defamation and acts likely to compromise public peace”.

Political Manoeuvring at Play

The detention of Faye, the party’s secretary-general, and its president, Sonko, fuelled speculation that the government intended to remove the leadership of the Pastef party. Indeed, in July 2023, Senegal’s interior ministry dissolved PASTEF. However, unlike Sonko, Faye was not put on trial. This meant he could retain his civic rights. It was during his jail time that the Pastef party developed a plan to facilitate his participation in the upcoming presidential election.

Campaign images bearing the slogan “Diomaye moy Sonko” (“Diomaye is Sonko”) circulated on social media on Sunday, 19 November 2023, just ahead of the sponsorship period for the presidential election in Senegal. Many were surprised when Sonko relinquished his position to support Faye. And several MPs – Guy Marius Sagna, Birame Souleye Diop, and Abass Fall – who were contenders in the presidential elections, withdrew their candidacies. This made Faye the sole candidate of the party. Despite Pastef’s dissolution, they successfully initiated a popular sponsorship campaign for Faye.

The Burning Questions

Often described as altruistic, Faye revealed in his first press conference after his release from prison how he used his first scholarship from the leadership training school to provide clean water connections for his family and neighbors. He vehemently opposes the use of strength by the powerful to oppress those who are, supposedly, weak. The man, despite the tumultuous electoral context, received acclaim from voters, and he appeared quite timid on 25 March during his first presidential address.

It remains to be seen whether he can fill the presidential shoes. The coming weeks or months should enlighten us.


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Who was Ebrahim Raisi and what were his Policies at Home and Abroad?

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By Peter Beaumont

Iranian president killed in helicopter crash was a hardliner who led country’s return to sterner stance

Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian president who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, was a hardliner who had been instrumental in the last few years in steering Iran back towards the more uncompromising beliefs of the Islamic Republic’s revolutionary founders. A supporter of deeply conservative values on the domestic front, in terms of foreign policy, Raisi also carved out an increasingly aggressive stance, and it was on his watch that Tehran opted to launch its recent unprecedented missile and drone strike against Israel, bringing the two countries into direct and open conflict for the first time.

Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian president who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, was a hardliner who had been instrumental in the last few years in steering Iran back towards the more uncompromising beliefs of the Islamic Republic’s revolutionary founders. A supporter of deeply conservative values on the domestic front, in terms of foreign policy, Raisi also carved out an increasingly aggressive stance, and it was on his watch that Tehran opted to launch its recent unprecedented missile and drone strike against Israel, bringing the two countries into direct and open conflict for the first time.

While he was elected president in June 2021, having represented himself as the best person to fight corruption and Iran’s economic problems, Raisi had long occupied important positions in Iran, including an alleged key role in the so-called Death Committee responsible for executing thousands of prisoners in the 1980s – a claim he denied.

Born in 1960 into a clerical family in Mashdad, Raisi was a child of the revolution that overthrew the Shah after he had travelled to Qom to attend a Shia seminary at the age of 15, following in his father’s footsteps. While still a young student, he joined the mass protests against the western-backed Shah in 1979 that would lead to the Islamic Revolution under the guidance of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a cleric until his dramatic return from exile in France.

In the turbulent first years of the Islamic Revolution, the young Raisi continued with his studies at the Shahid Motahari University in Tehran, where he received a doctorate in Islamic jurisprudence and law. Joining the judiciary, Raisi, aged just 25 – like many other young men of his generation – would find himself catapulted into important office, in his case as the deputy prosecutor of Tehran.

It was while still in that role, say human rights groups, that he became one of four judges sitting on the infamous Death Committee, a secret tribunal set up in 1988 to retry thousands of prisoners, many of them members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq group. It served as a springboard to his wider ambitions. Raisi would later serve as Tehran’s chief prosecutor, then as the head of the State Inspectorate Organisation. By 2006, he had been elected to the Assembly of Experts, which is charged with appointing and overseeing the supreme leader and whose members are approved by the powerful Guardian Council.

After the disputed 2009 presidential election triggered months of public protests, Raisi backed the brutal crackdowns and mass incarcerations. He became the country’s prosecutor general in 2014. He was placed under sanctions by the US Treasury in 2019 for his role in domestic repression.

Raisi’s election win, which led to him succeeding Hassan Rouhani as president, represented a pushback from Iran’s ultra-conservatives against the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers that gave Iran relief from international sanctions. Under Raisi, Iran began to enrich uranium at nearly weapons-grade levels and obstructed international inspections.

Raisi’s first effort to displace Rouhani, in 2017, fell short, as Rouhani won 57% of the vote. His profile, however, was given a fresh boost when Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed him deputy chief of the Assembly of Experts in 2019. Raisi won the 2021 presidential election, although that vote saw the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history.

In late 2022, a wave of nationwide protests erupted after the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, who had been arrested for allegedly breaching Iran’s strict Islamic dress code for women. In March 2023, Iran and Saudi Arabia, longtime regional foes, announced a surprise deal that restored diplomatic relations.

The detente with Saudi Arabia, however, was something of an outlier in terms of Iranian foreign policy under Raisi. Iran supplied arms to Russia in its war on Ukraine, launched a massive drone and missile attack on Israel, and continued arming proxy groups in the Middle East, such as Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Courtesy: The Guardian, London


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Engr. Mashood Ayinde Ojutiku, Vice President, Infrastructure

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Engr Mashood Ayinde Ojutiku is a distinguished professional with a passion for infrastructure development, who brings a diverse educational background and extensive experience to his new role. He holds a B.Eng in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Benin, Nigeria, as well as a Masters in International Affairs and Diplomacy (MIAD) from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Nigeria, He also has a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University. His strong educational foundation equips him with a range of skills and knowledge that will be valuable in his position.

In addition to his impressive academic achievements, Engr Mashood Ayinde Ojutiku has also contributed to the field through his publications. He has authored several papers that showcase his expertise and commitment to specific areas of infrastructure development. Some of his notable publications include: “Capacity Building on Value Chain Analysis for Agribusiness: Nigeria Country Paper, Delivered in Ankara, Turkey”: This publication focuses on strategies and insights for enhancing agribusiness value chains in Nigeria. It reflects his dedication to improving the agricultural sector and promoting sustainable economic growth. 2. “Completion of White Elephants, Case Study of Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital Project, Shika-Zaria”: This publication explores the challenges and successful completion of the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital Project in Shika-Zaria. His personal involvement in this case study showcases his expertise in project management and his ability to tackle complex infrastructure initiatives. 3. “Computer Aided Design of Automatic Control Systems, case study – Root-Locus plots”: This publication focuses on the application of computer-aided design in the analysis and design of automatic control systems. Engr Mashood Ayinde Ojutiku’s expertise in this area highlights his technical proficiency and his contribution to advancing engineering practices. Engr Mashood Ayinde Ojutiku’s publications demonstrate his commitment to sharing knowledge, promoting best practices, and addressing critical issues in the field of infrastructure development.

Having worked as a consultant for several years, Engr Mashood Ayinde Ojutiku has gained valuable insights and expertise in the field of infrastructure. His experience as a Registered Engineer with the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria further adds to his credibility and ability to make a significant impact in his new role. As the Vice President of Infrastructure for the Africa Islamic Economic Foundation, Engr Mashood Ayinde Ojutiku will play a crucial role in shaping and implementing infrastructure projects across the African continent. His responsibilities may include developing strategies for infrastructure development, overseeing project execution, mobilizing resources, and creating partnerships to ensure the successful implementation of infrastructure projects.

The impact of Engr Mashood Ayinde Ojutiku’s position is likely to be far-reaching. By focusing on infrastructure development, he will contribute to improving the quality of life for individuals and communities across Africa. This may involve enhancing transportation networks, promoting sustainable energy solutions, developing Special Economic Zones, expanding access to clean water and sanitation, and fostering economic growth through the development of critical infrastructure. Engr Mashood Ayinde Ojutiku’s background, education, and experience position him well to make a positive impact in his role as Vice President of Infrastructure. His dedication and expertise will undoubtedly contribute to the advancement of the Africa Islamic Economic Foundation’s mission of promoting sustainable economic development through ethical infrastructure investment in Africa.


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Hajiya Aishatu Usman Muhammad, Coordinator, Halal Business Transformation Program

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Aishatu Usman Muhammad, the newly appointed Coordinator of the Halal Business Transformation Program (HBTP) of the Africa Islamic Economic Foundation is an accomplished professional with a strong background in accounting, finance, and Islamic banking. Since 2006, Aishatu has been serving as a dedicated lecturer at the Gombe State University, where she shares her expertise and knowledge with students. Aishatu’s educational journey has been equally impressive. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree in Accounting, both earned from the prestigious University of Maiduguri. Currently, she is pursuing a Ph.D. program at Universiti Sains Malaysia, further solidifying her expertise in her chosen field of Islamic finance. In addition to her role as a lecturer at the Gombe State University, she is a proud member of the prestigious ETHICA Institute of Islamic Finance, Dubai, holding the title of Certified Islamic Finance Executive (CIFE). She is also a member of the Islamic Institute of Accounting and Finance, Nigeria, actively contributing as a Certified Islamic Finance Analyst (CIFA) and Certified Islamic Accountant (CIA).

Aishatu’s expertise is not only recognized through her professional affiliations but also through her scholarly publications. She has presented numerous papers and authored various publications in reputable national and international journals. Her work has been featured in renowned publications such as the African Journal of Business and Economics Research, as well as the International Journal of Accounting, Auditing, and Finance and Voyage Journal of Religious Studies Her research interests encompass several critical areas within the realm of Islamic finance, corporate governance, entrepreneurship, and gender studies. Aishatu’s curiosity extends to the realm of entrepreneurship, where she investigates the factors that contribute to successful entrepreneurial endeavors within an Islamic context.  Aishatu’s interest in gender studies reflects her dedication to examining the role of women in Islamic finance, entrepreneurship, and corporate governance. She explores how gender dynamics and societal norms influence the participation and representation of women in these fields, aiming to promote inclusivity and gender equality.

With her impressive academic background and field experience, Aishatu brings valuable expertise and insights to the table. Her deep understanding of Islamic finance, combined with her knowledge of corporate governance, entrepreneurship, and gender studies, positions her as a key driver in transforming the Halal Business landscape in Africa.

Aishatu’s leadership of the HBTP is expected to lead to the development of innovative strategies and frameworks that will enhance the growth and sustainability of Halal businesses in Africa. She will work towards creating an environment that encourages entrepreneurship, facilitates access to financial resources, and promotes ethical practices within the Halal industry. Her efforts will not only help businesses thrive but also contribute to the economic development of the African continent.

Furthermore, Aishatu’s influence is anticipated to extend beyond Africa and impact the Global Halal Market. As she actively engages in research and collaborates with stakeholders, she will contribute valuable insights and ideas to the international Halal community. Her work may lead to the formulation of best practices, standards, and regulations that can enhance the integrity and credibility of Halal products and services worldwide. Her expertise, combined with her passion for ethical finance and entrepreneurship, positions her as an influential figure in shaping the future of Halal businesses in Africa.

With her vast knowledge, dedication, and commitment to Islamic finance, Aishatu Usman Muhammad is undoubtedly a valuable asset to the Africa Islamic Economic Foundation.


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