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Africa

Yayi is disputed winner in Benin election

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-03-21

The main opposition candidate in Benin’s election, Adrien Houngbedji (pictured), disputed the comfortable re-election of incumbent Boni Yayi Saturday, alleging fraud. The constitutional court has yet to officially approve the results.

AFP - The main opposition candidate in Benin's election vowed action Saturday following disputed vote results showing he lost to President Boni Yayi, after he earlier alleged fraud in the ballot.

Results announced by the head of the electoral commission in the West African nation late Friday showed Yayi had won in the first round with 53 percent of the vote compared to Adrien Houngbedji's 36 percent.
 
The constitutional court must still approve the results to make them final.
 
Opposition supporters who are also members of the electoral commission had on Friday tried to stop the announcement of the results by blocking the door to where they were to be released, saying they disagreed with them.
 
"I am not going to take a decision on my own," Houngbedji told AFP on Saturday. "We are going to meet today and we are going to take decisions and make our position known in the immediate future.
 
"It is clear that we will not accept all of this with our arms folded. We will make ourselves heard, in any case."
 
Yayi's campaign on Saturday thanked voters and pledged to address poverty in his second five-year term.
 
The president "thanks all the Benin people who have given their support to him despite all the slander and denunciations that took place," spokesman Marcel de Souza told AFP. "We are going to tackle poverty at its root."
 
Voting day last Sunday passed calmly in the former French colony of some 9.2 million people despite chaotic preparations that had led to two postponements of the ballot.
 
The country was using an electronic voter register for the first time, and the opposition alleged that more than a million people had been left off it -- a figure others said was exaggerated.
 
A mop-up voter registration was to be held the Wednesday and Thursday before the election, but was extended into Saturday when crowds mobbed sign-up centres and equipment broke down.
 
Other issues had also led to the two earlier poll delays, including failure to distribute electoral cards on time and designate and train polling station agents.
 
The United Nations and African Union cited those two issues when they gave their backing to the second vote postponement.
 
A string of protests involving several hundred people took place over the electoral roll controversy in the run up to the vote, and authorities fired tear gas to break up one demonstration last month.
 
Houngbedji, 69 and running in his fifth presidential election, had pushed for a third postponement of the ballot, arguing that voter registration should continue.
 
While election day was calm, with hundreds waiting patiently under a harsh sun at polling stations, many of which opened late, Houngbedji alleged fraud occurred, including ballot box stuffing.
 
It was unclear whether the opposition's claims would result in wider protests. The streets of the economic capital Cotonou were calm on Saturday.
 
On Friday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said his country would not accept a post-poll conflict at its border as he visited neighbouring Benin.
 
"Nigeria will never accept any post-electoral conflict at its borders," Jonathan told journalists after meeting Yayi.
 
Jonathan is the current chairman of West African bloc ECOWAS, which includes Benin.
Yayi, a 58-year-old economist, was seen as a symbol of change when he took office in 2006 in the country dependent on cotton cultivation and its port, but has since been weighed down by corruption scandals.
 
One such scandal involved an alleged Ponzi scheme that left thousands without their savings. Yayi was accused of assisting the company involved.
 
Houngbedji was supported by many of the country's traditional political elites. Abdoulaye Bio Tchane, who had been seen as a third major candidate in the race, had six percent in Sunday's vote.

 

Date created : 2011-03-19

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