Benin’s opposition has returned to parliament after a four-year absence, winning 28 seats in elections dominated by President Patrice Talon’s allies, according to preliminary results.
Sunday’s election was a test for the West African state where Talon has promoted development, but critics say his programme has come at a cost to Benin’s once thriving multiparty democracy.
The main opposition party Les Democrates won 28 seats, while the Republican Bloc (BR) and Progressive Union for Renewal (UP-R) parties allied with Talon together won 81 seats, the CENA electoral authority said on Wednesday.
None of the remaining four parties competing for the 109 seats gathered enough votes to meet the 10 percent threshold for parliamentary representation.
Final results are expected on Friday after a vote that went ahead peacefully and in line with the regulations, according to election observers from the regional bloc Economic Community of West African States or ECOWAS.
Voter turnout in the polls was a low 38.66 percent, the electoral commission said, despite analysts predicting it would be higher as more parties were involved.
Four years ago, opposition parties were effectively barred from participating in a legislative ballot due to a tightening of election rules, resulting in a parliament dominated by Talon supporters.
Most of Talon’s key opponents have also been jailed or forced into exile after the cotton magnate was elected in 2016 and later re-elected in 2021.