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Benin Court Says Provisional Results Give Boni Yayi Vote Win

Benin’s Constitutional Court said provisional results showed President Thomas Boni Yayi won a second term in office in the West African nation’s March 13 election.

Opposition candidates may file protests and final results will be released this week, Robert Dossou, head of the court, told reporters today in the commercial capital, Cotonou. If confirmed, Boni Yayi, who won more than 53 percent in the provisional results announced by the court, would avoid a runoff vote against opposition leader Adrien Houngbedji, who obtained 36 percent.

Five of the 11 members of the electoral commission contested provisional results the board released on March 18, according to the panel’s vice president, Jerome Alladaye. Houngbedji rejected the results, saying in a statement on broadcaster LC2 that he had won the election and his victory was “stolen” by the ruling party.

“There is a lot of anger surrounding these elections and the way they were administered,” said Kissy Agyeman-Togobo, a West Africa political analyst at London-based Songhai Advisory, in a phone interview today.

Houngbedji will lodge a complaint with the court, Alain Adihou, a spokesman for the opposition leader’s campaign, said by phone.

Opposition Meets

Third-place finisher Abdoulaye Bio Tchane, whose campaign rejected the results on March 19, is meeting with other opposition candidates to coordinate a response to the court’s announcement, his spokesman, Rene Dossa, said in a phone interview today.

Boni Yayi, a former head of the West African Development Bank, won the presidency in 2006 by defeating Houngbedji and 20 other candidates. In the first-round election that year, Boni Yayi obtained 35.6 percent, while Houngbedji took 24.2 percent. Boni Yayi won the runoff in a landslide, with 74.5 percent.

Boni Yayi’s bid for a second term had been marred by the collapse of a 156 billion CFA franc ($338 million) Ponzi scheme and opposition threats to boycott the twice-delayed election. Boni Yayi, who fired Interior Minister Armand Zinzindohoue for his role in the scheme, has denied any wrongdoing.

Boni Yayi’s apparent first-round win “is something people didn’t expect because he lost a lot of popularity with the Ponzi scheme,” Agyeman-Togobo said.

Editors: Karl Maier, Emily Bowers.

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