Vote count is underway in the republic of Benin as the Béninoise await the announcement of the presidential aspirant who will succeed President Thomas Boni Yayi who served Benin for two terms.
Sunday’s election saw a long trail of 33 candidates vying for the presidency post. Most of the candidates were former employees of President Yayi. The election which was supposed to take place on February 28 was postponed to March 6 as a result of the delay in distribution of new voter’s cards.
The forerunner of the 33 candidates seems to be Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou. Zinsou was endorsed by President Boni Yayi and also backed by some two opposition parties.
Zinsou who is a former economist and investment banker promises to rebrand the economy, provide more jobs especially for the youth. As he voted in the capital, Porto-Novo, he said;
“I am proud of the conditions in which the campaign took place. It was a campaign without violence and an exercise in democracy.”
Other prominent candidates for the presidency include two businessmen, Sebastien Avajon and Patrice Talon who made his wealth by exporting cotton, as well as economist Abdoulaye Bio Tchane and Pascal Irenee Koupaki who is a financier.
In a continent plagued by leaders clinging to power and sidestepping term limits, President Yayi’s decision to step down after two terms serves as a democratic model to Africa, following Nigeria’s Good Luck Jonathan who conceded defeat against major opposition party , and also allowed for a free and fair election.
The republic of Benin was also the first African nation to transition from a single party dictatorship to a multi party system in 1991.
If none of the 33 candidates win a clear majority, the electoral commission is expected to administer a run off election in two weeks.