Senegal opposition candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye, a political newcomer popular among the country’s disaffected youth, is set to be declared the next president after his main rival called him on Monday, March 25, to concede defeat. 

Provisional results showed Faye with about 53.7% and Amadou Ba – from the current ruling coalition – with 36.2% based on tallies from 90% of polling stations in the first-round vote, the electoral commission said.

Amadou Ba and President Macky Sall both congratulated Faye, who turned 44 on Monday, March 25. They hailed the outcome as a win for Senegal.

“The Senegalese people have reinforced the good health of our democracy.. I wish him (Faye) success at the head of our country,” Ba said. 

Bassirou Diomaye Faye’s extraordinary rise caps a rollercoaster period in Senegalese politics that caught many off-guard. 

Faye spent months in jail alongside ally and kingmaker Ousmane Sonko, but the pair were released suddenly the week before the presidential election. 

Now Mr Clean, as Faye is nicknamed, must get to work on the sweeping reforms he has promised. 

“He’s never been a minister and wasn’t a statesman so critics question his lack of experience,” analyst Alioune Tine tells the BBC about Faye.

Many hope Faye’s victory will bring stability and an economic boost after three years of unprecedented political turbulence which saw several waves of deadly anti-government protests. 

“I am happy to see there is a wind of change,” said Tall, an opposition supporter who joined revellers during the night as street celebrations broke out in anticipation of Faye’s victory. 

“It is wonderful because democracy has won. Many thought it would not happen,” he said.

Meanwhile, singer Akon, who is originally from Senegal, has joined his countrymen to celebrate Faye’s victory.