Voting commenced in Benin Republic on Sunday to elect a successor to outgoing leader, Thomas Boni Yayi.
A media report on Sunday in Cotonou said more than five million voters were ready to cast their votes in the available 7,000 polling stations in place for the 33 candidates rearing to govern the country.
The election was initially slated for February 28, but the polls were postponed following delays in the distribution of voter cards.
The report stated that the polls began in spite reports that the distribution of the voter cards had not started in two of the country’s departments and that the electoral commission was not able to complete the process in several other departments.
It said among the favourites likely to succeed Mr. Yayi is Lionel Zinsou, the country’s Prime Minister, Abdoulaye Bio-Tchane, a former Head of the West African Development Bank, and Executive of the International Monetary Fund.
It said the frontrunner is Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou, 61, though some voters might hold his French connections against him.
It explained that Mr. Zinsou’s mother is French, he has dual nationality and he has served as advisor to the then French Prime Minister, Laurent Fabius, in the 1980s; facts that make opponents say he might serve the interests of the former colonial master.
Also in the race is the sole female candidate, Marie-Elise Gbedo, a 62-year-old lawyer.
The report noted that this was Gbedo’s fourth attempt to contest for the country’s top seat.
“In 2001, she managed to get 1 per cent of the votes but is now hoping that her election manifesto to eradicate youths unemployment and corruption will steer her ambitions among voters.
Other top candidates, include cotton magnate, Patrice Talon, regarded by many as Benin’s richest man; businessman Sebastien Alavon, who made his fortune in the food industry and former Premier. Pascal Koupaki.
This is Benin’s sixth presidential election and early results are expected in the coming days after the ballot.
A run-off would be held if none of the candidates wins on straight majority.