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Benin holds presidential elections


Benin holds presidential elections

Beninese polling station for last years presidential election
Photo: Yanick Folly / AFP

The west African nation of Benin will host its presidential election today.

Incumbent Patrice Talon is favoured to win since many of his rivals are either exiled or disqualified. This reality has left two little-known opponents, Alassane Soumanou and Corentin Kohoue, while major opposition parties plan to boycott the vote. As a result, political violence has ensued, leading to two deaths in recent weeks.

Since the disputed 2019 presidential elections, electoral reforms have introduced laws requiring prospective election candidates to obtain 10% support of parliamentarians and mayors to compete. Given that all MPs in the 83-seat parliament and 71 of Benin’s 77 mayors are Talon supporters, most genuine opposition politicians are effectively barred from running for election. Furthermore, targeted judicial charges against opponents in ‘special courts’ have forced them and disloyal judges to flee overseas.

Talon is certain to win a second term. Once touted as a model democracy, Benin will slide further towards authoritarianism. Talon has full leeway to pass legislation designed to suppress political dissent, including crackdowns on judges. Expect political protests and violence to spike in the aftermath of the election, but long-term political instability will most likely increase as opposition groups are forced underground.

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