The first round of Benin’s 2011 Presidential elections have taken place, and we still don’t know the winner, or even if there’s going to be another round.
More news, after this….
So, as I write this, everyone thinks the incumbent, Boni Yayi, won and Hougnbedji came in second. But what nobody knows is by how much, and ahhh, there’s the rub. If Boni Yayi got 50 percent plus 1, it’s all over. Anything less and there’ll be a runoff, and the deals will begin. Who will the third place finisher, Bio Tchane, support, and can he deliver his voters?
The newspapers are reporting all kinds of partial results, but the official results are released by CENA, and they’re due tomorrow, or maybe Friday, or maybe… And if there’s a runoff it’ll be held… Okay we don’t know that either, although Sunday, March 27 is the most likely date.
And if that happens, out I will head again to Lokossa to observe because that’s what we in the “international community” do during elections, observe. The first round went very smoothly, except for some late starts at polling places. Turnout was somewhere between 80 and 90 percent, which is downright embarrassing to the U.S. where we struggle to get over 40.
One more thing. There is still controversy over the LEPI, the voter list. If Boni Yayi gets 55 percent in the first round, it won’t be (much of) an issue. If he gets 45 percent it won’t be an issue. If he gets 50.1 percent, watch out! It’ll be Bush v. Gore in Africa (we don’t do violent, or even non-violent, revolution here). The new President constitutionally needs to be inaugurated April 6, so if there’s no runoff but Boni Yayi just creeps over the limit, the time between tomorrow (or the day after) and then could get quite interesting.