Voting begins in Benin Republic

Voting begins in Benin Republic

Sunday, March 6, 2016 10:02 am

Lionel Zinsou:favorite to win

Lionel Zinsou:favorite to win

Voting has begun in Benin Republic to choose a successor to outgoing President Thomas Boni Yayi.

There are 33 candidates contesting to lead the small West African nation and Nigeria’s neighbour.

Leading the field is Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou, a former economist and investment banker backed by the president and the main opposition Democratic Renewal Party.

Benin produces cotton but its economy is flagging, in part because a fall in oil prices has hit its giant neighbour Nigeria. A big choice facing voters is who best can create jobs and improve education.

The election began slowly in the capital with agents laying out materials and small lines of voters forming at polling stations, a witness said.

“I have just voted. It’s a matter of pride for me to have done my duty as a citizen. My candidate will win. I don’t think there will be too many (logistical) difficulties,” said Clarisse Nibime who voted in the capital.

Boni Yayi’s decision to step down marks him out from African leaders in countries such as Burundi, Rwanda and Congo Republic who have changed the constitution to pave the way for a third term.

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