Benin staged local elections minus key opposition parties on Sunday, May 17, 2020, with authorities pushing ahead despite the Coronavirus threat and calls for a delay.
The West African Nation of 11 million this week lifted a raft of restrictions aimed at halting the spread of the virus, as COVID-19 has caused 339 confirmed infections and two deaths in the country.
Benin President, Mr Patrice Talon, also casts his ballot at the Charles Guiyot Zongo Public School on Sunday, May 17, 2020, as voting operation went on for the local election.
The autonomous National Election Commission (CENA) made face masks mandatory for voters and enforced social distancing measures at Polling Stations.
Returning Officer Mathieu Daki, told AFP at N’dali in the North of the Country that: “We have received a lot of hydro-alcohol gels and masks for all voters.”
In the economic capital Cotonou where most Coronavirus deaths have occurred, election officials ensured voters were more than a metre apart; however, not everyone appeared to have been reassured.
In the city’s 5th district, election agent Dimitri Assani admitted voters were “few and far between”.
Donatien Sagbo Hounga wore a mask to enter the polling station, but said he was waiting “till there were no other voters in front of the election agents” to move forward to cast his vote.
“It may seem excessive but it’s necessary,” Hounga said.
Campaigning was limited to posters and media appearances as candidates were forced to call off rallies due to a ban on gatherings of over 50 people.