Benin opposition figure Talon indicates presidential bid

Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi (pictured) was allegedly targeted in a plot masterminded by Patrice Talon (AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards)

Cotonou (Benin) (AFP) - Benin businessman Patrice Talon on Thursday returned home from exile after he was implicated in an alleged poison plot, strongly hinting he would seek election for the country's presidency.

"On the issue of my candidature, I have answered the question several times," he told reporters outside his house in the financial hub of Cotonou.

"So this question should no longer arise. What remains is to straighten the contours, define the structure, work very hard and win the battle with my compatriots."

Talon fled into exile more than two years ago after he was accused of masterminding an alleged plot to poison Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi.

He was briefly arrested early December 2012 in Paris after Benin issued an international arrest warrant against him in connection with the alleged attempted murder.

Before he fled, Talon was a key figure in Benin's cotton and port sectors, financing Boni Yayi's successful 2006 and 2011 election campaigns.

The way was paved for his return last year when Boni Yayi pardoned Talon and others said to have been involved in the alleged plot in 2012, including his niece and personal physician.

In September, he was quoted as telling the Jeune Afrique weekly that he "envisaged" standing and that he was planning his return to Benin this month.

Candidates are not expected to make their official declaration before January but Talon has been touted as a potential runner, although he has yet to make a formal announcement.

Elections are scheduled for February 28 next year.

Talon, 57, dressed in a dark business suit, touched down in Cotonou on a flight from Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast, shortly after 11:30 am local time (1030 GMT), an AFP journalist at the airport said.

He made no comment as he arrived but at his residence said he was "happy to return home safe and sound".

"I thank my countrymen and God whose grace has overwhelmed me. And we must celebrate this. I am here, my heart filled with joy. I am happy," he added.

"Thanks to my country's officials who have allowed me to return. I am proud of my country. We have just proved that we are a great country. We know how to forget our differences, our resentments."