Legislative polls close in Benin

Voting has finished in Benin's legislative elections one year after Boni Yayi, Benin's president, took office with a pledge to fight corruption.

Legislative polls close in Benin

Votinghas finished in Benin'slegislative elections one year after Boni Yayi, Benin'spresident, took office with a pledge to fight corruption.

Saturday's votewill be a key measure of support for Yayi, a former development banker and apolitical unknown when he was the surprise winner of the presidential poll inMarch last year.


Elected with74 per cent of the vote in 2006, Yayi made economic growth and the fightagainst corruption the focus of his campaign.

Yayi saidthe polls were "a step towards the rule of law [and] a step towardsthe construction of a major democracy".


The finalelection result is not likely to be known for several days.


"Votingwent smoothly in most of the polling stations we visited, in spite of the latestart in some places," one international poll observer said.

In thecapital Cotonou, pollingstations were expected to stay open until late into the night on Saturday.

Michel Allokpo,electoral commission spokesman, said voter turnout was "well over 50 percent", lower than the 70 per cent in last year's presidential poll.

"Everythingwent very well. I've just voted for the candidate of my choice and I'm veryhappy," a woman who gave her name as Chantal said.


Theelection was originally set for March 25 but Benin'sconstitutional court delayed the vote by one week due to organisationaldifficulties.

Some fourmillion Beninese were eligible to vote out of a population of 7.9 million atmore than 15,300 polling stations across the west African nation.

Morethan two hundred domestic and international observers were present duringelections.

Voterschose 83 members of the legislature from among 2,158 candidates from 26political parties and groups.

Yayi saidafter casting his ballot in Cotonou:"For me this is an occasion for celebration and I thank all the politicalforces in our country who are aware of the importance of this vote."

About 20parties that back the new president have grouped together to form the CauriForces for an Emerging Benin (FCBE).

FCBEcandidates are competing against the Democratic Renewal party (PRD), loyal toAdrien Houngbedji, the defeated candidate in last March's presidentialelection, and the Alliance for Dynamismand Democracy (ADD).

The ADDis loyal to Nicephore Soglo, a former president and currently mayor of Cotonou.

Corruptionand poverty

Yayiinherited one of the world's poorest nations. Benin, wedged between Nigeria and Togo,has few commercial crops except cotton and that sector is currently indifficulty.

Thecountry's economic crisis as a whole has been consistently aggravated bycorruption and poor management of public funds.

The newpresident is popular, but his anti-corruption drive, and notably the audit hehas ordered into 60 state-run companies, has made him unpopular with manypoliticians.

He tookover from General Mathieu Kerekou, who had dominated the political scene in Beninfor the past 30 years, first as a military ruler and then as a democraticallyelected head of state.

A fewweeks ago the president's convoy came under attack north of the capital. Hehimself was unharmed but four members of the presidential guard were wounded.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16