Vote counting began in Benin on Sunday after a presidential poll that was boycotted by some opposition parties over pre-election violence and their objection to President Patrice Talon’s quest for a second term. Al Jazeera reports that Benin was once praised as a vibrant democracy in the region, but most opposition figures are now exiled, disqualified by electoral reforms or have been targeted for investigation by a special court. US democracy watchdog Freedom House meanwhile downgraded Benin last year in its annual rankings from “free” to “partly free”.