Abdou Diouf was born on September 7, 1935 in Louga. He received his elementary and secondary education in Saint-Louis, subsequently studied law at the Faculty of Dakar, and continued his studies in Paris to attain the certificate of the National School of Overseas Departments and Territories of France (ENFOM) in 1960.
He was appointed Director of the Office of President Léopold Sédar Senghor in 1963, then Secretary General of the Presidency of Senegal in 1964. Mr. Diouf later held the position of Minister of Planning and Industry from 1968 to 1970 before being appointed Prime Minister in 1970.
He became President of the Republic on January 1, 1981 following the resignation of President Senghor. President Diouf reaffirmed his leadership in the elections of 1983, 1988, and 1993. His terms were marked by a policy of openness to the multi-party system, the gradual liberalization of the economy, and by a wide decentralization.
Abdou Diouf contributed to raising the voice of Senegal in the world and fought for a greater African unity, particularly, as the Chairman of the Organization for African Unity (1985-1986 and 1992) and Chairman of ECOWAS (1991–1992).
Abdoulaye Wade succeeded him in March 2000. Abdou Diouf left a positive mark on Senegalese democracy after calling his main opponent to congratulate him on his victory; thus, encouraging a peaceful transition, which was later praised throughout the African continent. His first mission as former President was to represent his successor at a pan-African summit.
On October 20, 2002, Abdou Diouf was elected Secretary General of Francophonie during the ninth Beirut Summit, succeeding Boutros Boutros-Ghali. At the Bucharest Summit, on September 29, 2006, he was confirmed in office for four more years.