PORTO-NOVO, Benin— Voting is underway in Benin’s tense presidential elections this Sunday, April 11, after campaigns marred by violence.
Some opposition parties boycotted the polls following deadly protests against the incumbent Patrice Talon, whose re-election has been pre-determined.
Violent protests broke out in the North part of the country as residents blocked roads. Some people were killed in gunfire when the security forces fired warning shots, the Mayor of the Central town of Bante said.
The president is facing only two unpopular competitors; Alassane Soumanou and Corentin Kohoué. The opponents have accused the head of state of undermining democracy in the narrow, north-south strip of land in West Africa.
Benin will also be electing a vice-president for the first time. Talon is the only one to have chosen a woman, Mariam Talata, 57, for the position.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the country has managed to maintain positive growth in 2020.
Talon, a multi-millionaire cotton magnate who touts strong economic growth under his leadership, has reduced corruption and improved infrastructure in the nation.
However, 38 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and youth unemployment is skyrocketing. During campaigns, Talon promised to continue lifting Benin’s growth in his theme, “development is there”.
Nearly five million voters are expected in over 15,000 polling stations. The Voting will close at 4:00 pm local time and results are expected on Monday or Tuesday.