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.
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.