Businessman Patrice Talon ‘won’ the second round of Benin’s presidential election on Sunday, his adversary and incumbent Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou told AFP before the release of official results. “The provisional results point to a decisive victory for Patrice Talon,” Zinsou told AFP by telephone. “The difference is significant, (Talon’s) electorial victory is certain. “I have called Patrice Talon this evening to congratulate him on his victory, wish him good luck and put myself at his disposal to prepare for the handover.” Some 4.7 million people were eligible to cast their ballots in the vote to elect a successor to Benin’s outgoing President Thomas Boni Yayi. He is bowing out after serving a maximum two five-year terms, marking him out from many African leaders who have tried to change their country’s constitution to stay in power. Benin’s electoral commission is expected to announce provisional results at some time on Monday, Zinsou said.
The 61-year-old came out top in the first round of elections held on March 6 with 27.1 percent of the vote, compared to 23.5 percent for Talon. The prime minister, who was a candidate for Boni Yayi’s Cowry Forces for an Emerging Benin (FCBE), was seen as the frontrunner with the support of most lawmakers in parliament.
But Talon, a 57-year-old entrepreneur who made his money in cotton and running Cotonou’s port, billed himself as the authentic Beninese candidate and repeatedly attacked his opponent’s dual French nationality.
Zinsou, who attended an elite French university and was a speechwriter for the former prime minister Laurent Fabius, has been called a “yovo” or “the white man” during the campaign. He also took a knock when 24 of the 32 other candidates who stood in the first round came out in support of the businessman, including third-placed Sebastien Ajavon, who won 22 percent of votes.