Presidential election in Benin is expected to go to a second round as neither candidate has garnered the majority of votes to win outright, preliminary results show.
Benin’s prime minister, Lionel Zinsou, is leading with 28 percent of Sunday’s vote and 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 vie in a runoff, expected later this month.
More than 3 million voters chose from 33 candidates in this cotton-producing country.
President Thomas Boni Yayi is stepping down after two terms to comply with a constitutional term limit and solidify tiny Benin’s reputation as the giant of democracy in tumultuous West Africa.
Benin became a democratic leader on the continent when former President Mathieu Kerekou accepted defeat at the ballot box in 1991 and oversaw West Africa’s first peaceful shift away from power.
In power since 2006, Boni Yayi has tried to position himself as a mediator in regional crises, including last year’s short-lived coup in Burkina Faso.
His selection of Zinsou, who is a French-born investment banker, as prime minister last year was widely seen as a bid to anoint a successor.
But after spending much of his career in Europe, Zinsou has been seen by many as an outsider.
Talon was previously accused of plotting with Boni Yayi’s niece and physician to poison the current president, prompting him to flee to France. He was permitted to return last October.
Talon dismissed the allegation as “extremely ludicrous.” Authorities arrested the physician, the niece and a former government minister but finally released all three.— PressTV.