Prime Minister of Benin Republic, Lionel Zinsou, says he has conceded defeat to Patrice Talon, winner of the country’s presidential election.
Zinsou said he had placed a call to the new prime minister to congratulate him on his victory. This is coming even as President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated the new Benin prime minister.
“I called Patrice heel tonight to congratulate him on his victory and wish him good luck,” he said in a Facebook post before the final election results were announced.
“I am going to speak in front of the press to thank my constituents after the announcement by CENA (Commission Electorale Nationale Autonome/ Benin, the country’s electoral commission).”
Though slightly different, the gesture of conceding elections at presidential levels still remains a strange phenomenon in Africa.
The feat was regarded as unprecedented just about a year ago, when Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s former president, called to congratulate Muhammadu Buhari, the first person from the opposition to win a presidential election in the country.
In an interview prior to the March 28 2015 presidential election, Jonathan said he was going to concede defeat if he lost.
“We are in a democracy. I have always congratulated governorship candidates when they win, even when they defeat candidates of my own party. I will congratulate whoever wins,” he had said.
“I am not known for violence. I will never incite people to start spilling blood because of an election. It is not worth it. My ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.
“You see, it is God that made me president. If God says I will be re-elected, there is nothing anybody can do to stop me. All the plots against me will fail. All the lies will crumble. All the hate messages will amount to nothing. God put me here and if he says it is time to go, he knows best. If he says I will do a second term, no amount of lies can unseat me.”
Talon, who is known as the king of cotton in Benin, used to be an ally of Thomas Boni Yayi, the outgoing president, until he was accused of masterminding a plot to poison Yayi in 2012. Yayi is stepping down after two terms.
Buhari congratulates new prime minister
According to a statement by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, President Buhari also commended the Government and people of Benin Republic on the peaceful and orderly conduct of the presidential elections.
“He salutes the courage and statesmanship of Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou and presidential candidate of the ruling coalition, in upholding the democratic process by promptly congratulating his main challenger, Mr Talon, on his electoral victory,” the statement read in part.
The President also commended President Boni Yayi for his leadership throughout the electoral process and for his invaluable contribution to democratic governance in the sub-region, evidently demonstrated in the successful conduct of the presidential elections.
“The President is encouraged by the determination and exemplary conduct demonstrated by Beninese in coming out en masse to perform their civic duties.
President Buhari believes that the successful conclusion of the electoral process marks an important step in consolidating democracy in the sub-region and a beacon for other African countries to emulate.
The President trusts that the Beninese will give the incoming government all the necessary support to succeed and reaffirms that Nigeria, as a beneficiary of the dividends of democracy, will continue to build strong partnerships with her neighbours for the peace, progress and prosperity of our citizens,” the statement added.