Election officials warned late on Saturday that unrest had disrupted the arrival of election materials in some localities and that polling operations would start late in the affected areas in northern Benin.
As a candidate in 2016, Talon promised that five years in the presidency would be enough, but he later decided to run for a second term. He faced competitors in Sunday’s vote – international auditor Alasan Sumano and civil official Corentin Coho.
“Today will be another great day.” After casting his vote, Talon said, “In the end we will see that the intimidation and fear have not succeeded.”
On Thursday, the army fled a demonstration in the Saif region, in the center of the country. Two people were killed and six others were injured. Likewise, another violent protest was dispersed in Bantea, located about 170 miles (278 kilometers) north of Cotonou. Residents contacted by phone said hundreds of people had fled the city, fearing retaliation by the army.
Dozens of people were arrested in various parts of the small West African country, including opposition politicians accused of inciting violent demonstrations and disturbing public order.
In early March, failed opposition candidate Rikia Madogo was imprisoned for “financing acts of violence with the aim of disrupting the presidential elections”.
Political tensions alarmed the international community.
In a joint statement Friday, the embassies of Germany, the United States, France, the Netherlands and the European Union expressed their regret at the violence before the vote.
“They call for an end to violence and a return to calm, and they hope that the elections will be conducted in a free, peaceful and transparent manner,” the statement said.
Talon, who made his fortune from Benin’s main cotton exports, went into exile in France after being accused of taking part in a failed plot in 2012 to poison then-president Yayi with several others. Talon denied the allegations and later returned to Benin, where he won the 2016 run-off election to succeed Yayi.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.