Opposition candidate, Patrice Talon, has emerged winner of the presidential election in neighbouring Benin Republic after garnering majority of the ballots in the second round of polls, AFP news agency is reporting.
Mr. Talon, 57, beat the candidate of the country’s ruling party and prime minister, Lionel Zinsou, in an election to select the replacement for the President of the West African country, Boni Yayi, who has spent the constitutional allowed two five-year terms in office.
In a move reminiscent of the action of Nigeria’s immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Zinsou has called Mr. Talon to congratulate him even before official release of results.
Official results are expected to be announced later today (Monday).
“The provisional results point to a decisive victory for Patrice Talon,” Zinsou told AFP by telephone. “The difference is significant, (Talon’s) electoral victory is certain.
“I have called Patrice Talon this evening to congratulate him on his victory, wish him good luck and put myself at his disposal to prepare for the handover.”
Mr. Talon, a successful businessman and former ally of incumbent President, Mr. Yayi, who rose from a humble beginning and made his money by running the port at Cotonou, presented himself to voters as the authentic Beninese while attacking his opponent’s dual French nationality, media reports say.
His supporters nicknamed Mr Zinsou, “yoyo”, which means “the white man” for his complexion. Mr. Zinsou, 61, is of mixed birth and attended an elite French University. He was the former speechwriter for former prime minister Laurent Fabius.
Mr Zinsou, who was the frontrunner after the first round of voting with 27.1 per cent, was favoured to win the second round but 24 of the 32 candidates in the election, including third-placed Sebastine Ajavon, who won 22 per cent in the first round endorsed Mr. Talon, who had won 23.5 per cent in the first round, as their candidate during the second round of voting.
Mr. Talon bankrolled Mr Yayi’s successful campaigns in 2006 and 2011 but fell out with the outgoing President and fled to Paris after he was accused of planning to overthrow Mr. Yayi in a coup.
He only returned to the country last October after he was granted a presidential pardon.
He endeared himself to young Beninese with his taste for luxury. Many of them look up to him as being able to come up with solution for the country’s high unemployment.