Talon vows to strengthen Benin’s democracy as opposition rejects election results

By Laureen Fagan - 12 January 2023 at 10:52 pm
Talon vows to strengthen Benin’s democracy as opposition rejects election results

Opposition leaders in Benin are rejecting the results of national legislative elections that included their participation for the first time since 2019, despite making small gains in capturing seats in parliament.

Eric Houndété, head of the main opposition party The Democrats, held a press conference Thursday to present claims of voting irregularities and electoral fraud. He said the results of Sunday’s election failed to reflect the will of the people.

The opposition picked up 28 of the 109 legislative seats, with most seats going to members of the Republican Block and Progressive Union for Renewal (UP-R) parties aligned with President Patrice Talon, above. National Assembly head and UP-R member Louis Vlavonou welcomed the outcome.

But Democrats spokeswoman Nadine Okoumassoun, questioning the legitimacy of the vote, called the National Electoral Commission (CENA) results “magic” and said they were insulting to the intelligence of the people of Benin.

It’s the first time opposition candidates were permitted to participate since Talon’s government barred them from candidacy in 2019, shutting down the Internet and social media services as opposition leaders called for boycotts.

An increasingly authoritarian Talon had cracked down on dissent, with arrests of journalists and opposition leaders. The shrinking of democratic space in the West African nation remains.

Talon, speaking to military and government leaders on Thursday, praised the “peaceful climate” of Sunday’s elections and vowed to “consolidate and amplify the democratic achievements of recent years, while strengthening our institutions.”

Image: Presidency Benin

Laureen Fagan

Laureen Fagan

Laureen is the editor of Africa Times

Laureen is a freelance journalist creating high-quality, informed content on international affairs, politics and technology. She has worked both in and out of newsrooms since 2000. She is a former paramedic with significant experience in community resilience and nonprofit community development initiatives, and maintains "a passion for action" on sustainability and climate change. She also is trained in conflict resolution and diversity, and has special interests in science and medical reporting, and culture and religion issues. Laureen received her MSJ from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in the United States, and completed additional graduate study in theology at University of Notre Dame. Follow Laureen on Mastodon at @laureen@m.ai6yr.org

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