Benin began counting votes after an election on Sunday to choose a successor to President Thomas Boni Yayi, who is stepping down after two terms, leaving 33 candidates to compete for power in the West African country. Leading the field is Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou, a former economist and investment banker backed by both Boni Yayi and the main opposition Democratic Renewal Party.
By relinquishing power as mandated by law, Boni Yayi stands out from leaders in countries such as Burundi, Rwanda and the Congo Republic, who have circumvented limits on their time in office.
Zinsou has promised to restructure the economy, aid small businesses, improve access to micro-credit and create more jobs, especially for young people. “I am proud of the conditions in which the campaign took place. It was a campaign without violence and an exercise in democracy,” Zinsou said as he voted in the capital.
Local media later said provisional results showed that Zinsou would advance to a run-off election, having gained a plurality of the votes, and would face prominent businessman Patrice Talon. There were no results yet from the national electoral commission. Read more