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Presidential candidate wounded in unknown gunmen attack

A presidential candidate in Benin Republic has sustained injuries from gun shots fired at his car shortly after he filed his papers for the April presidential election, family members and the government confirmed on Saturday.

Ganiou Soglo, a former minister and son of ex-president Nicephore Soglo, was attacked on Friday on the way to his farm in Zinvie, 35 kilometres (22 miles) from the West African country’s commercial capital Cotonou.

Soglo was one of 19 politicians along side the incumbent Patrice Talon who have filed papers for the April 11 ballots.

A family member of the victim said that he was treated at a hospital in Cotonou. “He is out of danger, but to remove the bullet, that will have to be in Ghana or Morocco,”

In an official report, Soglo stated that he is focused on his recovery and medical treatment after surviving such “vile” attack.

“I assure you nothing will undermine my commitment to freedom.”

There had been Criticism that the former French colony, once seen as a model of democracy, has veered into authoritarianism under Talon, as a lot of opposition figures are either in exile or are barred from running in the election.

Benin government spokesman Alain Orounla condemned the attack and said security forces would apprehend the assailants.

“The government will ensure the diligence of investigations promptly undertaken by the Republican Police services,” he said.

Critics accuse Talon of leading a country once praised for multi-party democracy down an authoritarian road and say he is behind a crackdown that drove key rivals into exile.

During parliamentary elections in April 2019, no opposition parties were allowed to present lists of candidates for the vote.

A year later, only six opposition challengers to sitting mayors won in municipal elections that were boycotted by some opponents.

“Running in a presidential election in Benin today is a nightmare. From shameful exclusionary moves to assassination attempts to threats,” opposition candidate Reckya Madougou said before visiting the hospital.

Some opposition leaders have formed a coalition backing little-known academic Joel Aivo as a single candidate against the incumbent.

Talon, known for his expertise in cotton production, was first elected in 2016 with the intention of serving for just one term on a modernization platform and a promise to put an end to corruption and mismanagement.

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