Debate in Senegal: Which of the new president’s two wives is the first lady?


Last week, to the applause of thousands of supporters, PAC candidate and new president of Senegal, Backiro Diomaye Faye, took the stage holding hands with his wives Marie and Abessa, an unusual sight in the political arena of the country.

Before winning the first round of the presidential election with 54.28% of the vote, Mr. Diomaye Faye publicly revealed his multiple marriages, a traditional and religious practice anchored in Senegalese culture.

The new Senegalese president married his first wife from his village, Marie Khoun, fifteen years ago, with whom he had four children, before marrying his second wife, Abessa, about a year ago .

“I have beautiful children because I have two wonderful wives, they are very beautiful,” he said during the presidential election campaign. I thank God that they are always by my side,” he said during the presidential campaign.

In response to his detractors, the new president of Senegal fully embraces his polygamy.

The public appearance of Mr. Faye surrounded by his two wives has relaunched the question of polygamy in the media, on social networks and even within families in Senegal, where it has long been the subject of lively debate. in a country where more than 90% of the population is Muslim.

Binda Mbo, a former culture minister and history professor, said the new situation at the presidential palace was “totally unprecedented.” Until now, there has only been one first lady. This means that the entire protocol must be reviewed.

Sociologist Déby Diakhate said this was a perpetuation of the tradition of polygamy at the top of the state in a situation consistent with Senegalese reality, noting that this practice is “popular” with many men but ” exasperating” for many women.

The new president sent “a strong signal to other men to reveal their polygamy and demonstrate transparency like him”, with the “firm desire to stem the practice of hidden polygamy”, declared Mr. Diakhate.

Polygamy is very widespread in Senegal, particularly in rural areas, where many Senegalese see it as a way to expand their family. However, many Senegalese women oppose this practice, which they consider false and unfair to them.

The latest report from the National Center for Statistics and Census confirmed that, although it is difficult to determine the number of marriages because many of them are not registered, 32.5% of Senegalese have adopted polygamy .

A report by the United Nations Human Rights Committee published in 2022 concluded that polygamy discriminates against women and should be abolished.

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