Benin holds local elections despite COVID-19 threat

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Benin held its local elections on Sunday minus some opposition parties amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The West African nation earlier this week lifted a raft of restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the disease.

The country has registered 339 infections and two deaths, according to the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

The national election authority (CENA) made face masks mandatory for voters and enforced social distancing at the polling stations.

Campaigns leading to the vote were limited to posters and media appearances as candidates were forced to cancel their rallies due to a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people.

Critics however warned that the health risks of holding the election were too high.

Benin, seen as one of the region’s most stable democracies, has been in political crisis since a disputed parliamentary poll last April sparked protests.

Opponents of President Patrice Talon called on their supporters to boycott the polls over the COVID19 outbreak and the political situation.

Reports indicate a low voter turnout.

Final results from the election are expected within a week.

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