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Benin court confirms presidential election results amid fraud allegations

The Constitutional Court of Benin on Monday confirmed provisional election results in the country's March presidential election, securing the reelection of President Thomas Boni Yayi [official websites, in French]. Yayi secured 53 percent of the vote, allowing him to avoid a runoff [L'araignee report, in French] in his campaign for another five-year term in office. His closest competitors, Me Adrien Houngbedji and Abdoulaye Bio Tchane secured only 35 and 6.4 percent of the vote, respectively. Despite being judged as a free and fair election by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU), both Houngbedji and Tchane alleged fraud and irregularities in the vote [Bloomberg report]. The court's action comes after partial results were released [AFP report] Friday by the National Autonomous Electoral Commission (CENA), indicating the same result. Earlier this month, Constitutional Court approved a second postponement [JURIST report] of presidential elections following complaints that over one million people were not registered to vote. The court delayed the date of the presidential election from March 6 to March 13, holding that the electoral commission would not otherwise have enough time to implement measures to ensure a credible election.

Benin's presidential election was initially scheduled for February 27. The Beninese Constitution [text] requires that the first round of presidential voting be held 30 days prior to the end of the current president's term, which is on April 6. The National Assembly [official website, in French], Benin's parliamentary body, approved a law that overruled the constitutional provision and would allow the election postponement. Benin, a small country bordering Nigeria, is considered to be one of the most stable democracies in the region [BBC backgrounder], with a vibrant party system and civil society. However, the country remains underdeveloped and plagued by corruption.

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