COTONOU, Benin (AP) — Benin citizens voted Sunday in an election to choose a successor to the West African nation's president, who is stepping down after two terms.
Voters are choosing among 33 candidates vying for the position. More than 4.7 million voters are expected at about 13,600 polling stations, the commission has said.
Benin's constitution imposes a two-term limit on presidential candidates. President Thomas Boni Yayi is not running, in contrast to some other African leaders who are changing their countries' constitutions to remain in power.
"With my departure after two terms, our democracy is propelled to the rank of great democracies of the world. I leave you the republic. I leave you a united nation, peace and stability. Take care of Benin," Boni Yayi said after casting his ballot.
Favored candidates include Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou, who is backed by the ruling party, and former National Assembly president Adrien Houngbedji.
Businessman Patrice Talon, who made his fortune in Benin's main export of cotton, is also running. He went into exile in France after being accused of trying to poison the president, but returned in October.
Abdoulaye Bio Tchane, the former Africa director of the International Monetary Fund and former president of the West African Development Bank, is another well-known candidate.
A civil society expert in Cotonou, Martin Assogba, said this vote will help solidify Benin's reputation for democracy in the eyes of the international community.
Some polling stations remained open longer than others after a late start. Results are expected by Tuesday.