World Benin's president re-elected, with main opponents sidelined

01:40  14 april  2021
01:40  14 april  2021 Source:   afp.com

Protests break out in Benin before election

  Protests break out in Benin before election Protests broke out across Benin on Monday night and Tuesday as opposition leaders called for demonstrations days before President Patrice Talon faces an election. Several opposition leaders took to social media to call for demonstrations. Former finance minister Komi Koutche, in exile like many of Benin's opposition figures, called on people to take to the streets to "mark the end of the Republican mandate handed over to Talon".

Benin ’ s President Patrice Talon won re - election Tuesday with 86% of votes, according to provisional results, and is expected to lead the West African nation for another five years. Talon got 1.98 millions of ballots cast, according to the Autonomous National Electoral Commission, known by its French acronym, Cena. Benin , once a regional exemplar of multiparty democracy, sidelined the political opposition under Talon’ s presidency . Its parliament, controlled by parties that back Talon, passed electoral laws in 2019 that effectively made it more difficult for opposition candidates to run.

Benin is also electing a vice- president for the first time. Talon has selected Mariam Talata, a female philosophy professor. The president has promised a "knockout" first-round victory and is betting on his economic record. During his tenure, the production of cotton, one of the country' s main resources, has increased sharply and many roads have been built. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the country has managed to maintain positive growth in 2020. But 38% of the population lives below the poverty line and youth unemployment is skyrocketing.

Benin's President Patrice Talon was easily re-elected to a second term, provisional results showed Tuesday, after a weekend ballot critics said was already stacked in his favour following a crackdown on his opponents.

a man standing in front of a building: Benin President Patrice Talon, seen here voting, was widely expected to win another term © PIUS UTOMI EKPEI Benin President Patrice Talon, seen here voting, was widely expected to win another term Map of Benin © STAFF Map of Benin

Talon, 62, a cotton tycoon first elected to lead the West African state in 2016, faced two little-known rivals in Sunday's vote with most of his key opponents in exile or disqualified from running.

Talon won 86.3% of the vote, the electoral commission said as it announced preliminary results, while his opponents Alassane Soumanou and Corentin Kohoue got 11.29% and 2.25% respectively.

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.

Presidential elections were held in Benin on 6 March 2016, having been delayed by one week due to logistical constraints. Incumbent President Thomas Boni Yayi was at the end of his second presidential term and was constitutionally barred from running for a third.

Vote counting is underway in Benin after Sunday' s presidential election amid a call for a boycott by the opposition and where many candidates were sidelined . The vote is expected to hand incumbent Patrice Talon a second term. Other opponents are either exiled abroad or barred from running due to the new electoral code, prompting critics to accuse Talon of rigging that race. The election has been marred by violence, especially in the north of the country. Ahead of the vote, protesters blocked roads.

Benin's constitutional court must verify the final tally.

Three international observer missions already noted low turnout, though they said the vote generally went ahead peacefully despite tensions and protests before the ballot that left two people dead.

Turnout was 50.17 percent, the commission said.

In the country's economic capital Cotonou, there was little celebration in the streets. A small crowd of supporters met Talon outside party headquarters where he briefly greeted them from his black jeep.

a young boy sitting on a table: Preliminary results from the election show Talon won 86 percent of the vote © PIUS UTOMI EKPEI Preliminary results from the election show Talon won 86 percent of the vote

"If our president was re-elected by the Beninese people it is because of the work he did for us," said Antinhounhou Honorat, one of the scores of motorbike taxi drivers who accompanied the campaign.

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.

President -elect Joe Biden introduced his nominees for key foreign policy and national security roles as the transition process officially began. But Mr. Durbin, who just won re - election , is a very practiced player in internal party politics and has survived at the top for years, suggesting that he would be difficult for Mr. Whitehouse to defeat. Whether the position up for grabs will become the chairman of the panel or the top Democrat under Republican control will depend on the outcome of two Senate runoff elections in Georgia on Jan.

Benin businessman Sebastien Ajavon has announced his intention to run for president , in a move that will pit two of the country' s most famous entrepreneurs against each other in the February polls. Ajavon, who amassed a fortune in the food industry, will run against fellow tycoon Patrice Talon, a cotton magnate, who is considered the main opponent to President Thomas Boni Yayi' s ruling Cowrie Forces for an Emerging Benin (FCBE) party. French- Beninese investment banker Lionel Zinsou, the country' s current prime minister, has been nominated as the FCBE candidate.

Once praised as a vibrant multi-party democracy, critics say the former French colony has veered onto authoritarianism under Talon through a steady campaign to sideline his major political foes.

There was no immediate official reaction from main opposition leaders after the results.

But even before the announcement, for some Beninese the election results meant little.

"This election was just folklore," said restaurant owner George Kpatchavi.

"We are not waiting for the results because they were already known in advance. After the elections, everything will return to order."

An association of civil society groups, which deployed more than 1,400 election observers, said in its preliminary statement Sunday that "attempts to pressurise, intimidate, threaten, corrupt or harass voters were observed across the entire country".

Government officials said the election went ahead without problems.

Presidential in Benin: At least one bale death during protests against power

 Presidential in Benin: At least one bale death during protests against power © provided by point to u less a person was killed by bullet and six wounded Thursday at Benin during an intervention of The army to disperse protest protests against the absence of the opposition to the Sunday presidential election. "We received a case of bale deaths and six balers," said AFP José Godjo, the director of the Bonus clinic, a district of the city of Savè, in the center of Benin .

President - elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. celebrated his “convincing victory” and promised to seek to unify the country.CreditCredit Amr Alfiky/The New York Times. But once again, America has bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice. Kamala, Doug — like it or not — you’ re family. You’ve become honorary Bidens and there’ s no way out. To all those who volunteered, worked the polls in the middle of this pandemic, local election officials — you deserve a special thanks from this nation.

Widespread allegations that President - elect Joe Biden "stole" the election are now tinged with unfounded claims that media outlets are rescinding their calls of certain states or are changing their projections in ways that disfavor Biden. The main source cited by the video is a misinformed and now-removed tweet by Trump adviser Pam Bondi, who falsely claimed that the website RealClearPolitics had reversed its projection that Biden had won Pennsylvania' s Electoral College votes.

"Benin's honour is safe and these little games do not tarnish the credibility of the poll," said government spokesman Alain Orounla.

- Protests in north -

Protests had blocked some routes in opposition strongholds in the centre and north of the country in the run-up to the election, leading to delays in the dispatch of electoral materials.

Two people were killed last week when troops fired live rounds into the air to break up an opposition protest blockading a major route in the central city of Save.

Benin has seen some economic successes under Talon, who had promised a "KO" first-round win in Sunday's election.

Supporters have praised his projects to expand electricity, water access, roads and basic services.

But since Talon first came to power, critics say he has used a special economic crimes and terrorism court and electoral reforms as tools to disqualify the opposition.

Reckya Madougou, one opposition leader who was barred from running, was detained last month on accusations of plotting to disrupt the vote, a charge her lawyer said was politically motivated.

Earlier this month, a judge from the special court that ordered her detention said he had fled the country, denouncing political pressure to make rulings against Talon's opponents.

The government had dismissed such accusations as "political manipulation" and claimed exiled opposition figures were trying to orchestrate a smear campaign to have the election annulled.


Feared and revered: Patrice Talon, Benin's 'King of Cotton' .
Benin's President Patrice Talon, re-elected to a second term Tuesday, first came to power in 2016 pitching himself as a successful tycoon who sought just a single term in office. One of his former advisors says Rwandan President Paul Kagame made a strong impression on him when they met three months after his 2016 election. "He wanted to model his tenure on a charismatic political model and he found it in Kagame," said the source. Comparisons with Kagame, elected in 2000 and reelected in 2017 with 99 percent of votes, are frequent.Both Rwanda and Benin have enjoyed fast growth under leaders that have become both feared and revered.

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