Benin vote count begins as 33 candidates fight for presidency

Benin's Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou, a French-Beninese investment banker, waves during a rally after being nominated to fly the party flag for the forthcoming presidential election in Cotonou, January 31, 2016 Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Former banking chief Lionel Zinsou ran on behalf of the ruling party

Votes are being counted in Benin, where 33 candidates are fighting to become president.

Thomas Boni Yayi is stepping down as leader in the West African nation of 10.6m people after two terms.

The ruling party's candidate is Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou, who used to head France's largest investment bank.

Sunday's election was delayed after problems with the distribution of polling cards, an issue that continued until the day before the vote.

Benin's electoral commission is yet to start publishing official results, but local media reported that Mr Zinsou would probably go to a run-off.

They said that he would compete against businessman Patrice Talon.

Official results are expected on Tuesday.

Mr Zinsou, who is Franco-Beninese, is considered as "France's candidate" by his detractors, RFI reports. Benin gained independence from France in 1960.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption A supporter dressed in the colours of candidate Pascal Irenee Koupaki
Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Businessman Sebastien Avajon is among the main candidates
Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption The former head of the West African Development Bank Abdoulaye Bio Tchane is in the running

Job creation and anti-corruption drives are two of the main promises made by candidates.

Among other leading candidates is another businessman Sebastien Avajon, as well as economist Abdoulaye Bio Tchane and financier Pascal Irenee Koupaki.

Benin's constitution barred Mr Boni Yayi from seeking a third term, although he had tentatively sought changes to the text allowing him to do so.

The rulers of other African countries such as Burundi, Rwanda and Congo-Brazzaville have recently changed their constitutions to allow third terms.

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