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World Benin's President Talon eyes re-election with few rivals in his path

09:30  08 april  2021
09:30  08 april  2021 Source:   afp.com

Feared and revered: Patrice Talon, Benin's 'King of Cotton'

  Feared and revered: Patrice Talon, Benin's 'King of Cotton' Benin's President Patrice Talon came to power in 2016 pitching himself as a successful tycoon who sought just a single term in office, bringing competence and entrepreneurial drive to the nation. Today, the man dubbed "the King of Cotton" is on course for a second spell at the helm, declaring that his mission for change has yet to be completed. But critics say Talon has skewed Sunday's elections in his favour -- another alarming tilt towards authoritarianism, they charge, in what was once a vibrant multi-party democracy.In January the president backtracked on his one-term promise and announced he would run again.

Presidential elections will be held in Benin on April 11, 2021. These elections will elect the President of the Republic of Benin to a five-year term. Incumbent president Patrice Talon is seeking his second term in office.

Benin President Patrice Talon and only two other candidates will run in the country' s presidential election in April, electoral authorities said Friday. The opposition says the ballot is already fixed in favour of Talon , especially because of an electoral law reform requiring each candidate to be formally sponsored by 16 mayors or members of parliament. "He chose to select his opponents from among his allies and refused to compete with candidates capable of beating him at the ballot box," said Joel Aivo the candidate for part of the divided opposition who was one of those whose candidacy was rejected.

Benin's President Patrice Talon looks set to win re-election to a second term on Sunday in a presidential ballot critics say is already tilted in his favour after a crackdown on opponents.

a group of people posing for the camera: Talon, seen here with his running mate Mariam Talata on campaign posters in Cotonou, is expected to win on Sunday © PIUS UTOMI EKPEI Talon, seen here with his running mate Mariam Talata on campaign posters in Cotonou, is expected to win on Sunday

A cotton tycoon first elected in 2016, Talon faces two little-known rivals with most opposition figures from the West African country either living in exile or disqualified from running in the election.

Protests broke out this week in several towns, mainly in opposition strongholds, as tensions built before Sunday's vote with young demonstrators blocking roads and ransacking pro-government property.

The Beninese to the polls to elect their president without fervor and turned on

 The Beninese to the polls to elect their president without fervor and turned on © Pius Utomi Ekpei Partisans sing to welcome the outgoing President on the last day of the election campaign on 9 April 2021 in Abomey-Calavi in ​​Benin the Beninese vote Sunday to elect their president after a campaign without fervor and marked by violence in the center of the country where protesters protested against a poll confiscated by the head of state outgoing Patrice Talon.

With more than a dozen candidates disqualified, President Patrice Talon is expected to face a weakened opposition after several election law changes. Donald Trump' s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday asked a judge to throw out a voting machine company' s .3 billion defamation lawsuit relating to his false claims about the November 2020 presidential election being rigged. Giuliani' s lawyer said in a court filing that Dominion Voting Systems' lawsuit should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, and because the company has not adequately justified its request for money

Since then Benin has been regarded as a democratic model, said the BBC' s Rachida Yénoukunmè Houssou in Cotonou, with several African nations replicating its reconciliation body, the National Conference of Active Forces of the Nation. But new electoral laws introduced this year mean that a "According to the courts in Benin they [the polls] were in conformity with electoral law," said Ms Van Houtte of the the Economist Intelligence Unit. "That' s not something anyone outside the country can do anything about - other than condemn the use of force against protesters and the internet shutdown.

Once praised as a vibrant multi-party democracy in an often troubled region, critics say Benin has slipped into authoritarianism under Talon as his political foes were steadily sidelined.

Slotted between Africa's powerhouse Nigeria and tiny neighbour Togo, Benin has seen some economic successes in five years under Talon, with improved roads, water and energy supplies. But analysts say its pluralist politics are now dimmed.

a group of people standing on a sidewalk: Talon has been accused of cracking down on opponents © Yanick Folly Talon has been accused of cracking down on opponents

Talon has played up his economic programmes while campaigning. At the start of the pandemic he said he could not enforce public confinement because Benin lacked the means of rich countries.

"I have to work for the whole country. The work that we started will have to be finished," Talon said at an April campaign stop in Avrankou, near the capital Porto-Novo.

Backtracking on one-term pledge, Benin President Talon seeks five more years

  Backtracking on one-term pledge, Benin President Talon seeks five more years Backtracking on one-term pledge, Benin President Talon seeks five more yearsCOTONOU, Benin (Reuters) - Benin's President Patrice Talon, who previously vowed to serve only one term, enters Sunday's election a heavy favourite to win five more years in office amid criticism he has tarnished the country's reputation as one of West Africa's model democracies.

R-L; President Muhammadu Buhari and President Patrice Talon of Benin Republic during the latter’ s recent visit to Nigeria. According to him, the political opposition have come together to save the country, to avert a physical showdown between unarmed civilians and armed agents of a repressive government led by a proven unethical leader. “ We have a president whose company runs our ports, the cotton (industry); our Customs does not run the revenue but his company, his company is called ` Benin Control’.

Benin businessman Patrice Talon , known as the "king of cotton", has been declared winner of a presidential run-off, official preliminary results show. His only challenger, Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou, conceded defeat earlier. image captionPatrice Talon is a successful businessman, known as the "king of cotton". This is a turnaround from the first round vote last month when Mr Talon came slightly behind Mr Zinsou, who is Franco- Beninese and used to head France' s largest investment bank.

In final days of campaigning, the economic capital Cotonou was adorned with blue posters of Talon and his running mate for the vice-presidency, Mariam Talata.

On the new roads, a few electoral caravans trundled along to the din of music and horns. But the usual fervour of presidential campaigns was missing.

"Since the return of the multiparty system in 1990, this is the first time the country has organised a presidential election like this: pluralist in appearance, but without choice in reality," said Expedit Ologou, a Beninese political scientist.

a man holding a sign: Former minister Alassane Soumanou (R) is one of only two rivals to face off against Talon © PIUS UTOMI EKPEI Former minister Alassane Soumanou (R) is one of only two rivals to face off against Talon

"And where the re-election of the president seems only a formality."

- Marxism to crackdown -

Following 17 years of military rule along Marxist-Leninist lines, the former French colony opened up into a multi-party democracy in 1990.

Benin's Talon vows 'KO' win in Sunday election

  Benin's Talon vows 'KO' win in Sunday election Benin President Patrice Talon on Friday promised a "KO" first-round victory in Sunday's election that opponents say is already rigged after his main rivals were disqualified from running. He said he expected a "KO" -- a knockout victory for which there would be no need for a runoff vote. Benin was long praised as a thriving multi-party democracy in often troubled West Africa, but critics say Talon has steered the country into authoritarianism with a steady crackdown on his opponents.

Thus, we are left with a fake president Biden running the table with outrageous executive orders that are already causing damage to the US economy and job market. As was shared with me, the military has comprehensive proof that the election was rigged by foreign aggressors working with domestic actors. They know the full list of seditious traitors and treasonous operators, and there is indeed an arrest list in place. However, the military is reluctant to move against Biden until Biden’ s popularity drops due to his rolling out of bad policies (which has already begun, of course).

We' re therefore getting fewer of the deep dives into the alleged shooter' s social media posts and possible signs of bigotry. There' s also relatively little to be said about the victims, inasmuch as most or all of them were apparently white, or the shooter' s motivation. If there' s a common thread in the Boulder and Atlanta shootings, it' s likely that both 21-year-old suspects had serious mental issues. Alissa reportedly ranted in his Facebook posts about hating Trump and not having a girlfriend. His brother reportedly told the Daily Beast that he was "very antisocial" and was "paranoid" that people

But since Talon won power in 2016 as an independent candidate, critics say he has used a special economic crimes and terrorism court and electoral reforms as tools to disqualify the opposition.

Map of Benin © STF Map of Benin

Still fresh in the memories of many is the political crisis that followed a disputed parliamentary election in April 2019. Tensions erupted into mass opposition protests that were broken up when security forces opened fire with live rounds.

Parties allied to Talon won all the seats after opposition groups were effectively banned. Some figures then fled into exile.

An amendment to the electoral law in 2019 also required presidential candidates to be sponsored by at least 16 deputies or mayors. Only 6 of these 159 elected officials belong to an opposition party.

That meant election officials disqualified many opposition figures from running in Sunday's vote because they lacked the required documents.

Only two opposition candidates were approved: former minister Alassane Soumanou and Corentin Kohoue, a dissident candidate from the opposition Democrats party.

Benin opposition supporters block roads ahead of vote

  Benin opposition supporters block roads ahead of vote "Talon, leave power," shouted an angry crowd of about sixty people after setting up a makeshift barricade Wednesday on a main road in central Benin, one of several protests against President Patrice Talon days before he seeks re-election. Talon is set to win a second term on April 11 but opponents say the vote is already rigged in favour of the cotton magnate first elected in 2016. Benin has long been applauded as a strong multi-party democracy but critics say that under Talon, the West African country has veered into authoritarianism.

Supporters of Talon say the country's democratic credentials are intact and that Sunday's elections will go ahead without any problems.

"Even though his record is very positive, an election is never won in advance," said Talon's communications director Wilfried Houngbedji. "An election must be a party."

Analysts say low turnout could be a real issue.

"Patrice Talon does not want to be elected with 20 or 30 percent of the vote, as was his assembly," said local political analyst Mathias Hounkpe.

Tensions have been on the rise in the weeks before the vote. A leading opposition member was arrested accused of trying to destabilise the election.

This week, a judge from the special economic crimes and terrorism court fled the country claiming to have been pressured by the government to seek charges against opponents.

The government dismisses such accusations as "political manipulation" and claimed exiled figures were trying to have the election annulled.

"Yes there are risks of tensions, but Beninese have in mind the violent political crisis that followed the 2019 parliamentary elections," analyst Hounkpe said, "and many are afraid."

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Benin election protest death toll rises to two .
A second person has died after troops opened fire with live rounds to break up a protest in central Benin just days before President Patrice Talon seeks re-election, a local official said on Friday. Talon, a cotton magnate first elected in 2016, is expected to easily win Sunday's ballot with most of his main opponents exiled or disqualified, but protests have erupted in opposition bastions in the centre and north of the country. On Thursday,Talon, a cotton magnate first elected in 2016, is expected to easily win Sunday's ballot with most of his main opponents exiled or disqualified, but protests have erupted in opposition bastions in the centre and north of the country.

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