This week millions of Benin citizens were left shocked as their President Patrice Talon decided to run again in the coming elections. Citizens have labeled the President as untrustworthy as he had made a vow to serve only one term during last year’s election. On the other hand, others have criticized the President for his decision and say he will tarnish the country’s reputation as one of West Africa’s model democracies.
Despite breaking his Vow to Serve one term, Talon set to Win.
Despite President Patrice breaking his promise, he seems to be a favorite to win five more years in office. According to experts, Talon, a multi-millionaire cotton magnate, faced only two challengers when he decided to run again. Before deciding to run once more, Talon prevented his strongest competitors from running by forcing them into exile under the warning of outrageous charges. According to experts, the President’s actions will undoubtedly give him a win during the current elections.
Despite having numerous followers who support his extension into a second term, there are still those that remain displeased. The President promised as a contender in 2016 to forgo a second term to avoid complacency. His U-turn about a second term has led to protest across the country of 12 million people. Hundreds of thousands started marching and burning tires in several cities.
Despite the many protests, Talon has also decided to ignore those not happy. The President continues to campaign for his second term, saying he needs it to consolidate the gains of his first. Talon has also defended the legal charges brought against his rivals, saying they are justified by their acts.
Talon chooses those to run against him.
In Talon, a business-minded reformer who pushed to digitize government services has campaigned on his economic record. Under his leadership, Benin became West Africa’s top cotton exporter in 2018. The nation recorded an average gross domestic product increase of over 5% before the coronavirus pandemic hit. But many have chosen to disregard these achievements and want Talon out as they accuse him of undermining domestic progress.
Back in 2016, Talons former predecessor Thomas Boni Yayi stepped down when his two terms ended. His actions distinguished Benin from other African Presidents who revised constitutions to stay in power. Everyone thought President Talon would follow in Yayi’s footsteps but once elected; Talon pushed through electoral reforms that banned all opposition parties from competing. By doing so, the President ensured his supporters controlled all 83 seats in the national assembly.
Before the election began, several prominent opposition leaders were detained on terrorism-related charges. The electoral commission even rejected one candidate’s presidential candidacy. Only two opposition candidates Alassane Soumanou and Corentin Kohoue run against the President. Many believe that there’s no real choice in the coming election because the President already chose the opponents who can run alongside him. Some say that when Talon wins, Benin might end up trading temporary economic growth for a growing political instability. The instability may very well, in the end, undermine the very development President Talon is using to justify his power.