Benin – Presidential Elections

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As the country goes to the polls the current Prime Minister is widely expected to be the victor.

On March 6th presidential polls positioned current Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou and cotton businessman Patrice Talon as frontrunners in the Presidential election race. The elections are to appoint a successor to President Thomas Boni Yayi who finishes a second five year term on April 5th 2016.

“From the results, Lionel Alain Louis Zinsou-Derlin scored 858 080, Patrice Guillaume Athanase Talon got 746 528, while Sébastien Germain Ajavon scored 693 084,” announced Théodore Holo, President of the Constitutional Court, reported Africanews.

The second round of the election is scheduled for March 20th when the final decision will be made, as no party received a majority in the first polls. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) deployed 120 observers and 16 experts across the country, hailing “the absence of major incidents during the electoral process.”

The result of no outright majority, however, is a setback to Zinsou and President Boni Yayi, who had been widely considered to be seeking to appoint Zinsou as his successor. Boni Yayi has not attempted to change constitutional limits of presidential terms like many other African leaders, reported the National.

Since the polls both frontrunners have been seeking to consolidate support; Chinese news agency, Xinhua reported that Talon held a secret meeting with members of the coalition called “Rupture” to define post-poll strategies. Meanwhile Zinsou is seeking to strengthen cohesion within the alliances of – translated from French – “Cowry Forces for an Emergent Benin (FCBE), allied parties grouped under the Party for Democratic New Deal (PRD) and the Renaissance of Benin (RB), reported the Cameroon Tribune.

Just weeks before the elections Boni Yayi moved to restructure his cabinet according to Africanews on March 12th, with three ministers of state and six news presenters incorporated; Zinsou’s function as Prime Minister was also renewed.

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According to reports from Africa Confidential,  Zinsou is widely expected to succeed President Boni Yayi, winning support from the support PRD led by National Assembly Speaker and former Premier Adrien Houngbédji, and the RB of the Mayor of Cotonou, Léhady Soglo.

Other candidates have been hindered by the coalition Zinsou has formed and the reconfiguration of the political landscape. According to Africa Confidential the other contenders are united only by opposition to Zinsou.

It is widely believed that Zinzou will become Boni Yayi’s successor and that he may face a struggle for popular acceptance due to his connections to France. However, Zinsou comes from a well-known and celebrated Benin family; his grandfather was a prominent advocate of national independence, and his uncle Emile Derlin Zinsou, was President from July 1968-December 1969, when a military coup drove him to exile.

Ex-leader Mathieu Kerekou, who died in October 2015, came to power in 1972 at the head of a Marxist-Leninist regime, although widespread protests and pressure from African and French leaders eventually pressured Kerekou into accepting a democratic transition; he lost the 1991 election but returned to power in 1996.

Since the democratic transition in 1990-1991 Benin has been touted as one of the most stable democracies on the continent, claimed the National. On February 27th Benin marked the 26th anniversary of the National Conference of the Active Forces of the Nation and the establishment of multi-party democracy, reported Africanews.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

Benin – Forty-Eight Candidates
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.53, Issue.1, Pp.20851C–20852A

Benin – PM is Presidential Candidate
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.53, Issue.1, Pp.20851C–20852A

Benin – Former President Mathieu Kerekou Dies
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.10, Pp. 20746A

Benin – Civic Elections
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.7, Pp.20635C

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