Benin Postelection report
|Candidate||Number of votes||% of votes|
|Yayi Boni||1 579 559||53,14%|
|Adrien Houngbedji||1 059 396||35,64%|
|Registered voters||3 668 558|
|Total votes||3 111 833 (84,8%)|
|Invalid/blank votes||139 388|
|Total valid votes||2 972 445|
Situated in the unstable west African belt, Benin experiencing a period of relative political stability, went to the polls to on March 13 to vote in the country’s Presidential election. In close proximity to the Côte d’Ivoire it was feared that post election violence might break out in similar fashion to what has happened following the Ivorian crisis. However, despite demonstrations carried out by the opposition following the election, the vote has largely been considered free-and-fair, as well as peaceful by the international community.
Similarly to the runoff election in 2006, contested between current President Yayi Boni and longtime rival Adrien Houngbédji, the election turned into a two horse race with Boni eventually winning it with 53,14% of the vote. Houngbédji came in second with 35,64%.
Following the vote, the camps of both rival candidates each published their own set of results which reflected that both were leading the vote count. Official results, however reflect that Boni captured the vote and has secured another term as President.
As a result, Houngbédji supporters organised a series of demonstrations in order to convey their opposition to the election results, claiming they were rigged and that there was ballot stuffing. The demonstrations saw Benin security forces fire tear gas and use batons to quell the movement.
Benin authorities subsequently condemned the protest arguing that there were legal avenues for protestors to challenge the vote as opposed to resorting to violence.
Despite some discrepancies in the voting process, international observers have largely said that the vote was free and fair.
Benin’s president is elected by direct popular vote for a five-year term. Should a candidate not achieve an overall majority of the vote, the country will enter into a second round runoff.
Despite the recent protests by the opposition, it is unlikely that violence will escalate in the fashion that saw the political crisis in the Côte d’Ivoire turn into armed conflict. The vote has already been ratified by the country’s High Court and has been accepted by international observers which give it a decent weighting of legitimacy.
Yayi Boni’s attention will now turn to internal issues within his country such as rising debt and increasing poverty in the country of just over nine-million. Despite a considerable economic turnaround in the 1990s, the country is still highly underdeveloped and largely dependent on foreign imports for a number of services. In the postelection environment, Boni will be concerned with creating an economic climate in the country that promotes self-sufficiency and implement a debt-alleviation strategy.
African Elections Database. Elections in Benin. (March 28, 2011).
Polity. Benin police break up protest against President’s win. (March 25, 2011).
Polity. Benin rival camps claim Presidential vote win. (March 15, 2011).
US Department of State. Background note: Benin. (March 29, 2011).