President Patrice Talon is expected to win a second term when a group of opposition parties calls for a boycott.
Voting begins in Benin on Sunday following presidential poll boycotted by several opposition parties because of pre-election violence and their opposition to President Patrice’s second term. Talon.
Interim results of the first round of the election are scheduled for April 13.
As a cotton magnate who was first elected in 2016, Talon went head-to-head with two little-known rivals while some of the country’s key opposition leaders boycotted the election.
Benin was once hailed as a vibrant democracy in the region, but most opposition figures are currently in exile, disqualified due to electoral reform or targeted by a special court to investigate. .
The protests in some cities this week turned violent. Several people were killed in Thursday’s shootings in the central town of Bante when security forces fired a warning, its mayor told local radio, without saying how many had died.
After voting at an elementary school in the commercial capital Cotonou, Talon said Benin was “writing another page in his history despite the threat”.
“There are people who have mobilized fighters to attack the republic. The police officers have been attacked with weapons of war. It’s a pity, ”he said without further explanation.
Among the protesters’ complaints was Talon turning his back on a pledge he made as a candidate in 2016 to serve only one term and the changes he made. passed on electoral law, which resulted in Talon supporters fully controlling the parliament and eliminating the leadership. opponents from the presidential race.
Boycott the call
Coalition of opposition parties in a statement late Saturday urged their supporters to boycott the poll and voters mainly stay away from at least five polling points in opposition-pro-opposition regions. in Cotonou.
“I think it is an election for which the outcome is known. My vote won’t change anything, ”said Nadine Abibou, a 27-year-old shop owner.
Others were not discouraged by calls to boycott.
“I went to the polls this morning to choose the president. I hope that the Beninese will emerge massively to do what I did, ”said Diane Fanou, a 30-year-old hairdresser, in the Zogbo neighborhood.
A group of civil society organizations that supervised the election said that as of 11 a.m. local time (10:00 GMT), a number of counties in the center of the country had not started voting because of documents. Election was blocked.
US democracy watchdog Freedom House downgraded Benin last year in its annual ranking from “free” to “partial free”.
The US, German, French and Dutch embassies as well as the EU delegation in Benin all called for calm and let the vote go freely and transparently.