Newly-elected Benin president aims to reduce presidential terms

A billboard campaigning for presidential candidate, Patrice Talon, is seen along a road in the Akpakpa district in Cotonou, Benin, March 4, 2016. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

COTONOU (Reuters) - Newly-elected Benin president Patrice Talon plans to reduce presidential mandates to just one five-year term, he said late on Friday, after the constitutional court confirmed his election victory over prime minister Lionel Zinsou.

Talon took 65.4 percent of the vote in last Sunday’s run-off poll to decide who would replace President Thomas Boni Yayi, who is stepping down after serving two terms in office, the constitutional court said on Friday. The figures confirmed results that came out earlier in the week.

“I will first and foremost tackle constitutional reform,” Talon told reporters, reinforcing a promise made during campaigning. One term of five years would reduce presidential “complacency”, he said.

Benin presidents can currently serve two five-year terms.

The peaceful election was seen as reinforcing the democratic credentials of Benin, a bastion of stability in a region where elections are often marred by violence.

By relinquishing power after serving two terms in office, Boni Yayi stands in contrast to leaders in other African nations, including Burundi, Rwanda and Congo Republic, who have altered their constitutions to extend their rule.

Talon said his government will be made up of 16 members, down from the 28 members of the outgoing government.

Reporting By Samuel Elijah, Additional reporting by Allegresse Sasse; Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Mark Potter