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Benin election: Ballots counted in vote where opposition sidelined

An official of Autonomous National Electorial Commission (CENA) raises a ballot paper during the counting at a polling station.   -  
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Vote counting is underway in Benin after Sunday's presidential election amid a call for a boycott by the opposition and where many candidates were sidelined.

The vote is expected to hand incumbent Patrice Talon a second term. He faced just two other rivals little known Alassane Soumanou and Corentin Kohoue.

Other opponents are either exiled abroad or barred from running due to the new electoral code, prompting critics to accuse Talon of rigging that race.

The election has been marred by violence, especially in the north of the country. Ahead of the vote, protesters blocked roads.

And in the central city of Save, two people died and five were wounded after troops fired tear gas and live rounds in the air to break up a demonstration.

But no reports of violence during the vote.

Benin is also electing a vice-president for the first time. Talon has selected Mariam Talata, a female philosophy professor.

The president has promised a "knockout" first-round victory and is betting on his economic record.

During his tenure, the production of cotton, one of the country's main resources, has increased sharply and many roads have been built. 

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the country has managed to maintain positive growth in 2020.

But 38% of the population lives below the poverty line and youth unemployment is skyrocketing. During campaigning, Talon promised, "development is there".

Results are expected on Monday or Tuesday.

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