Benin’s prime minister conceded defeat to businessman Patrice Talon on Monday as preliminary results from a presidential run-off election gave the cotton magnate an insurmountable lead, paving the way for a peaceful transition of power. Talon faced off against Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou on Sunday in a poll to decide which of the two would replace President Thomas Boni Yayi, who is stepping down after serving two terms in office. The election was seen as reinforcing the democratic credentials of Benin, a bastion of stability in a troubled region where military coups are a regular occurrence and polls are often marred by violence. Preliminary results from the electoral commission put Talon ahead with 65 percent of votes, while Zinzou had 35 percent. Only votes from abroad were yet to be counted, the commission said.
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.
On Sunday 20 March, Benin’s citizens will choose their president in the second round of an open ballot. This election will consolidate the country’s democratic gains and mark the fourth democratic changeover in the country since the advent of multiparty politics in 1990. If the outcome of the first round were difficult to predict, expectations for the second round are even more uncertain. Given the results of the first round and the emergence of two candidates – Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou, who is also the candidate of the ruling coalition, and the businessman Patrice Talon – four key observations can be drawn. The first relates to the organisation of the first round by the Autonomous National Electoral Commission (Commission électorale nationale autonome, or CENA). The commission, which became permanent in 2013, seems to have taken on board lessons learnt in last year’s two elections.
A so-called cotton king once accused of trying to poison his president could be about to take power in the tiny West African country of Benin. Cotton magnate Patrice Talon is the main challenger to Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou in the current presidential elections. The pair are due to face each other in the second round of voting on March 20 after the first round last week failed to produce a clear winner. Preliminary results showed that neither Talon nor French-born Zinsou had the majority of votes for an outright win with the former taking 24 per cent of the vote against the Prime Minister’s 28 per cent. Another businessman Sebastien Ajavon was a close third but if the preliminary results are confirmed Talon and Zinsou will vie against each other in a run-off on Sunday.
Benin’s prime minister and a cotton magnate are leading in the presidential election, but neither has the majority of votes to win outright and they are expected to face each other in a second round, according to preliminary results released Tuesday. Lionel Zinsou, a French-born investment banker who was named prime minister last year, earned 28 percent of Sunday’s vote, according to the election commission. Patrice Talon, known locally as “the king of cotton,” came in second with 24 percent. He was followed closely by Sebastien Ajavon, another businessman. If the results are validated by the Constitutional Court, Zinsou and Talon will participate in a runoff, expected later this month. More than 3 million voters chose among 33 candidates in this cotton-producing country.
The Constitutional Court of Benin has ruled that both old and new voter cards can be used for the March 6 presidential elections. This follows the inability of the first body (COS-LEPI), instituted and given the powers to put a new register together from the old and new lists to finish their work before February this year. Consequently, the court has dissolved COS-LEPI and replaced it with a new body, Centre de National Treatment (CNT) which is under seeing the manufacture and distribution of the identity cards. The decision is also to ensure that not many people are disenfranchised if the new cards are not available.
Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi promised voters and world leaders including Barack Obama he would step down when his second term expires next year but doubts over his pledge are overshadowing Sunday’s parliamentary election. Lawmakers from the president’s ruling alliance, the Cowry Forces for an Emerging Benin (FCBE), are trying to focus on jobs, roads and schools in the campaign, but his opponents portray the election as the only way to stop Boni Yayi clinging to power beyond the end of his mandate in 2016. His plans to reform Benin’s constitution – which would introduce a national electoral commission and state auditor to fight graft and ensure democratic elections – have fed the suspicions about the president’s real intentions.