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Benin Elections: Battle of the businessmen

Benin Elections: Battle of the businessmen


The head of Benin’s Business Leaders Organisation has joined the presidential race to succeed President Yayi Boni.

Sebestien Ajavon announced his intention to contest for the presidency on Sunday at a rally in a 35,000 capacity stadium which was almost full to capacity. The election is scheduled for February 28, 2015.

“I dream of a Benin that smiles and that’s why I invite us to turn resolutely toward a clear future,” he said

I dream of a Benin that smiles and that's why I invite us to turn resolutely toward a clear future.

Ajavon, joins a number of businessmen including Patrice Talon, who was accused of plotting to poison President Boni and was later pardoned, eyeing the presidential seat in the cotton producing country.

The autonomous electoral commission will open nominations from January 9- 12. Campaigning is expected to begin a month later, from February 12 to 26.

Battle of the Businessmen

Among the key contenders is Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou, who escaped a helicopter crash unhurt last week. He was nominated by the ruling party, Emerging Benin coalition (FBCE) to succeed President Yayi Boni.

Prime Minister Zinsou, 50, said his presidency would seek to reduce poverty and employ more workers in the formal sector. The French-born investment banker and economist is a nephew of former president Emile Derlin Zinsou.

“Mr Zinsou for us is the choice of reason because he maintains national unity,” spokesman for the ruling party said.

Ajavon, 50, who made his wealth through a food production company is advocating against corruption and will run as an independent candidate. He is campaigning on reducing unemployment among the youth and improving access to energy.

Talon, 57, before fleeing, was a key figure in the country’s cotton and port sectors. He is reported to have financed the Boni Yayi’s 2006 and re-election 2011 campaigns .

The former president of the West African Development Bank (BOAD), Abdoulaye Bio Tchane, after his unsuccessful attempt at the presidency in 2011 is also vying for the presidential seat.

Another former prime minister, Pascal Iréné Koukpaki, who served from May 2011 to August 2013 has already declared his intention through national tours. These men appear to be the favourites of the election.