Benin voters prepare for presidential polls

Almost 5 million Beninese are expected at the polls on 6 March 2016 for the first round of the presidential elections. 32 candidates, including two women, are running to succeed current President Boni Yayi.

“Benin has cemented its reputation as a country willing to undertake peaceful transitions,” said Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa, during his recent visit to Benin.

“That owes largely to national traditions grounded on compromise, awareness of the State and empathy towards others”. For Chambas, “Benin sets a good example to the rest of the world.”

The electoral process is being supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through its assistance to the Commission Electorale Nationale Autonome (National Autonomous Electoral Commission), the main national body behind the polls. UNDP support to the elections is valued at USD 200,000 (CFA 100 million).

The funds have been used to purchase electoral materials including 28,000 bottles of indelible ink and 390,000 ballot box seals for the first and second round of the polls. Civil society organizations (CSO) involved in civic and voter education, and election monitoring also received UNDP support. 600 CSO coalition representatives were trained as election observers and will be independently deployed to monitor polling stations.

Another 2400 observers are being supported by other partners including the European Union, the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), the Swiss Agency for Development and the United States Embassy.