Benin businessman Sebastien Ajavon has announced his intention to run for president, in a move that will pit two of the country’s most famous entrepreneurs against each other in the February polls.
Ajavon, who amassed a fortune in the food industry, will run against fellow tycoon Patrice Talon, a cotton magnate, who is considered the main opponent to President Thomas Boni Yayi’s ruling Cowrie Forces for an Emerging Benin (FCBE) party.
French-Beninese investment banker Lionel Zinsou, the country’s current prime minister, has been nominated as the FCBE candidate.
“Yes I am your candidate, the candidate of all Beninese,” Ajavon said to the crowd at Mathieu Kerekou stadium in Cotonou on Sunday.
“I said yes to your request to be president, regardless of what sex, religion, political affiliation or region you come from.”
Ajavon, 50, has stuck to the political sidelines in Benin, in the past making financial contributions to different political parties.
Similarly, Talon funded Yayi’s ruling party in 2006 and 2011 before turning to the opposition.
With Ajavon in the presidential race, it “pits the two most powerful traders” in Benin against each other, according to political analyst Francois Alladji.
Yayi, who is completing his second term, has promised his name will “never appear on any ballot.”