Macky Sall, who once served as prime minister under Abdoulaye Wade, replaces his former mentor as Senegal’s new president.
Sall unseated Wade, the ageing president who unsuccessfully sought a third term in office, in a landslide victory in the country’s 2012 presidential elections.
As a member of the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS), Sall served as prime minister under Wade between April 2004 and June 2007 and was also the president of the National Assembly between June 2007 and November 2008.
His political career appeared to have peaked under Wade, who ruled the West African nation for almost 12 years.
Sall saw quick political success, and occupied several ministerial portfolios before becoming prime minister.
But he then fell out of favour with Wade’s government, quit the party and struck out on his own.
Relations soured between Wade and Sall when the latter questioned the role of Karim Wade, the president’s son, in alleged irregularities concerning construction sites for Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) held in early 2008.
Wade loyalists viewed Sall’s move as a covert attempt to undermine Karim and bolster his chances of becoming the president.
Wade had long been accused of trying to position his 44-year-old son to take over from him.
After the fall-out, Sall formed his own party, the Alliance for the Republic (APR-Yakaar), under which he was elected mayor of Fatick in 2009.
Under APR-Yakaar, he ran a nationwide campaign to compete in the 2012 elections.
Although Wade led in the first round of the elections, the combined weight of Senegal’s opposition vote favoured Sall in the runoff.
Wade had faced growing criticism for his attempt to seek a third term in office on a constitutional technicality amid discontent over corruption, nepotism and financial scandals in his government.
Sall was born to a modest family in the western city of Fatick, to a civil servant father and a mother who sold groundnuts.
He graduated from Dakar’s Cheikh Anta Diop University with a degree in geology, before heading to France to further his education in the field.
His father was a dedicated member of the Socialist Party which had been in power since independence. But Sall says he quickly became disgusted with its misrule, joining the opposition in 1983.
Sall was at Wade’s side when he finally unseated the Socialists in the 2000 elections. A year later, the new president appointed him mining minister.
In 2003 he became minister of territorial administration and government spokesman before taking up the office of prime minister a year later.
Sall led his mentor’s election campaign in 2007, but lost his spot as prime minister in the cabinet shortly afterword, though he went on to be elected speaker of the National Assembly.
A tall, plump man, Sall is nicknamed “Niangal” in the local Wolof language, referring to his closed, austere expression, while he comes across as naive.
But his aides say appearances are deceptive. “He is not as docile as he seems,” said El Hadji Wack Ly, a lawmaker with the PDS. “He is a firm man who keeps his word.”