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» 28.03.2011 - Fear of post-election violence in Benin
» 05.03.2011 - Benin protesters won demanded vote delay
» 21.02.2011 - Benin protests ahead of presidential polls
» 24.06.2008 - "Public debate in Benin being silenced"
» 20.02.2008 - Benin let-go CAR rebel leaders
» 26.03.2007 - Last minute delay of Benin polls
» 03.04.2006 - President-elect pledges change "with God's blessing"
» 12.07.2005 - Benin President to retire next year

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Benin opposition denounces election fraud

Benin opposition leader Adrien Houngbedji denouncing electoral fraud

© Partie UN/afrol News
afrol News, 15 March
- Following a chaotic election process, Benin's government claims incumbent President Thomas Boni Yayi won the first round outright. Opposition leader Adrien Houngbedji cries foul.

According to Benin's electoral commission, President Boni Yayi managed to win Sunday's election win 55.8 percent of the vote. This was the first poll round in a presidential election delayed several times due to chaotic preparations, and it was widely expected that none of the 15 candidates would reach the 50 percent threshold to avoid a second poll round.

The ruling party is already celebrating the victory and re-election of President Boni Yayi for a second term in the Beninese presidency.

According to the electoral observer team of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Beninese elections were "mainly free and transparent" and carried out "under acceptable conditions of freedom and transparency."

The preliminary evaluation of the ECOWAS monitoring team however also found reasons to criticise the electoral commission. In addition to an incomplete electoral roll - which had delayed the poll twice, the ECOWAS team found there had been a "shortage of ballots in certain centres as well as differences in the interpretation of some rules and procedures of the process."

Opposition leader Houngbedji goes further. Addressing Beninese voters today, Mr Houngbedji lists many serious irregularities and concludes on outright fraud by the ruling party. He demands the holding of a run-off poll.

According to Mr Houngbedji, in particular in opposition strongholds, the electoral roll was incomplete and "ballot shortages ere reported, forcing voters to return to their homes." His party's observers had further documented the "stuffing of ballot boxes with pre-stamped ballots" and cash payments for election officers to manipulate the poll.

Delivery of ballot papers in Yenawa, Benin

© CENA/afrol News

"Not surprising therefore, these results are fraudulent," Mr Houngbedji concludes, with reference to the declaration of President Boni Yayi as the outright winner of the elections. He insisted that no opposition representative had been caught in fraud; only persons connected to the ruling party.

The opposition leader therefore insists that there must be a second poll round. Reports from many polling stations had indicated that Mr Houngbedji's Union of the Nation party had gained most votes, while later results announced y the electoral commission concluded on the opposite.

Mr Houngbedji also hailed Beninese voters for a peaceful and orderly election, saying the opposition wanted to maintain this peaceful atmosphere in the country. He was now hoping for a reaction from Benin's Constitutional Court.

Benin since the 1990s has been one of West Africa's best functioning democracies, with incumbent presidents accepting defeat and stepping aside twice since multi-party elections were introduced. This therefore represents the first major conflict over elections in Benin.

The chaos started already in February, as the new electoral roll had excluded 1.4 million Beninese potential voters due to capacity problems. While President Boni Yayi insisted on the polls to be held as planned, the opposition insisted on a delay to give time to update the list.

Only after an order from the Constitutional Court and recommendations from a joint ECOWAS-UN team did government agree to postpone the elections. Most of the missing 1.4 million voters were registered during this time, but some hundred thousands adult Beninese still are not included in the electoral roll.

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