Benin’s President Patrice Talon was easily re-elected to a second term, provisional results showed Tuesday after weekend election critics said was already stacked in his favour following a crackdown on his opponents.
Talon, a cotton tycoon first elected to lead the West African state in 2016, faced two little-known rivals in Sunday’s vote with most of his key opponents in exile or disqualified from running.
Talon won 86.3 percent of the vote, the electoral commission said as it announced preliminary results, while his opponents Alassane Soumanou and Corentin Kohoue got 11.29 and 2.25 percent respectively.
Benin’s constitutional court must verify the final results.
Once praised as a vibrant multi-party democracy, critics say the former French colony has veered onto an authoritarian path under Talon with a steady campaign against his political foes.
Three international observer missions had already noted low turnout in the election, though they said the vote general went ahead peacefully despite tensions and protests in the lead-up.
With the 62-year-old incumbent almost guaranteed victory, analysts had said voter turnout would be a key measure of his election success.
Turnout was 50.17 percent, the commission said.
Even before the announcement, for some Beninese the election results meant little.
“This election was just folklore,” said restaurant owner George Kpatchavi. “We are not waiting for the results because they were already known in advance. After the elections, everything will return to order.”
An association of civil society groups, which deployed more than 1,400 election observers, said in its preliminary statement Sunday that “attempts to pressurize, intimidate, threaten, corrupt or harass voters were observed across the entire country”.