Beninese voters to choose between 33 presidential candidates

When voters in the West African country of Benin go to polls on Sunday, they will have the choice between a record 33 presidential candidates.

President Thomas Boni Yayi, who was elected with 75 per cent of the vote in 2006, but whose rule was later tainted by corruption allegations and an economic downturn, is no longer eligible after serving two terms.

The front-runner is Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou, 61, though some voters may hold his French connections against him.

Zinsou's mother is French, he has dual nationality and he has served as advisor to the then French prime minister Laurent Fabius in the 1980s, facts that make opponents say he might serve the interests of the former colonial master.

Other top candidates include cotton magnate Patrice Talon, regarded by many as Benin's richest man; businessman Sebastien Alavon, who made his fortune in the food industry; former premier Pascal Koupaki; and Abdoulaye Bio Tchane, a former Africa director of the International Monetary Fund.

The race was expected to be one of the tightest ever in Benin, which is regarded as one of Africa's most solid democracies.

Zinsou has promised to strengthen the economy and create jobs in the agricultural country, whose main exports include cotton, cashew nuts and shea butter. About 36 per cent of the 11-million population are classified as poor by the World Bank.

About 4.6 million people are eligible to vote in the election, which was postponed by one week due to logistical problems.

Results were expected within five days. If no candidate wins an outright majority, the election will go into a run-off.

Last update: Sun, 06/03/2016 - 11:15
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