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Senegal’s President Appoints Populist Leader as Prime Minister

(Bloomberg) -- Senegal’s new president named Ousmane Sonko as prime minister, elevating to power the populist opposition leader who backed his candidacy in last month’s election.

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The appointment came hours after Bassirou Diomaye Faye was sworn in as president of the West African nation, following his landslide victory over the ruling party candidate in the March 25 ballot. The office of the prime minister guides the nation’s policies and coordinates government actions.

“We will spare no effort to achieve the goals we have promised the people,” Sonko said in a statement.

Faye was named the main opposition’s presidential candidate after Sonko, 49, was disqualified from running following his conviction for libel. The two were among a group of political prisoners who were freed last month under an amnesty law, weeks before the election took place.

Read More: Senegal’s Bassirou Diomaye Faye Is Sworn In as New President

Sonko, who like Faye is a former tax inspector turned politician, rose to prominence after finishing third behind former President Macky Sall and ex-Prime Minister Idrissa Seck in elections in 2019. He’s been a critic of previous government policies including its management of the economy and oil contracts with companies including BP Plc, Kosmos Energy Ltd. and Woodside Energy Group Ltd., which Faye has pledged to revise.

Uncertainty about Senegal’s future policy direction has resulted in Senegalese dollar bonds losing 4.3% for investors so far this year — the second-worst performance in the Bloomberg EM Sovereign Hard Currency Index after South Africa. Dollar debt maturing in 2033 fell for a second day on Tuesday, dropping 0.9% to 84.47 cents on the dollar.

Under Sall, the country achieved annual economic growth of more than 5% over the past decade. That rate is expected to accelerate to 8.3% this year as projects designed to yield exports of as much as 100,000 barrels of oil a day and at least 2.5 million tons of liquid natural gas come on stream.

--With assistance from Katarina Höije and Colleen Goko.

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