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Benin Opposition Supporters, Unions, Protest Boni Yayi Win

Supporters of Benin opposition candidate Adrien Houngbedji protested the March 13 election victory of President Thomas Boni Yayi, as a coalition of unions expressed concern about growing anger in the West African nation.

“Your real and elected president is Adrien Houngbedji,” said Atao Hinnouho, a local opposition official, told a crowd of about 400 supporters in the Akpakpa neighborhood of Cotonou, the commercial capital, today.

Police dispersed the protests and arrested some demonstrators, including opposition lawmaker Raphael Akotegnon, citing a security ministry directive banning public demonstrations, Commander Philippe Houndegnon said at the site.

Provisional results from Benin’s Constitutional Court gave Boni Yayi a first-round win and a second term in office with more than 53 percent. Houngbedji, who contested a runoff against Boni Yayi in 2006, won 36 percent, according to the court.

Leaders of five unions in Benin said the court should be cautious when it declares its final result, likely next week.

Election Delayed

“We don’t need war in Benin as it happens now in Ivory Coast and Libya,” Gaston Azoua, head of the Confederation Syndicale des Travailleurs du Benin, told reporters.

The election was delayed twice over concerns about the voters’ list, with last-minute registrations being held up to a day before the ballot took place. Anger over the electoral commission’s organization of the vote may pose problems for parliamentary elections slated for April 17, said Pascal Todjinou, leader of the Confederation General des Travailleurs du Benin.

The election was “peaceful, fair and transparent,” according to the Economic Community of West African States, which urged candidates to take their complaints “through constitutional channels” in a statement dated March 20. Houngbedji filed a complaint to the court, said Alain Adihou, his spokesman.

Abdoulaye Bio Tchane, another opposition candidate, formed a coalition with seven other contestants to call on the commission to re-run the March 13 poll, state-owned broadcaster Office de Radiodiffusion et Television du Benin reported today.

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