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Four-Time Benin Candidate Campaigns in Presidential Bid


In the second in a series of VOA reports profiling the leading candidates in Sunday's presidential election in Benin, Joe Bavier looks at four-time candidate Bruno Amoussou. A political insider, Amoussou is running on a platform promising economic revival in the poverty-stricken West African nation.

Bruno Amoussou is no stranger to Benin's political scene. A perennial candidate in presidential polls, since a multi-party system was reintroduced in 1990, he has held key posts as a representative of his Social Democratic Party for 15 years.

Amoussou won a seat in parliament in the first elections following the democratic transfer from military rule. He served first as vice president and then president of the National Assembly, before joining the government of outgoing President Mathieu Kerekou as minister of planning and development.

In Amoussou's fourth bid for the presidency, he, like most of the 26 candidates, is concentrating on the economy.

Amoussou says he is calling for a change, but one that will take place in an atmosphere of security.

Although many analysts consider Benin one of the region's most stable democracies, its economy, dependent largely on cotton exports, is struggling. Unemployment, especially among the young, is high. And voters are hoping, whoever is elected Sunday will make things better.

"There is no more unbearable injustice," Amoussou says, "than that of unemployment." He says that is why education and training take priority in his government program.

Amoussou finished fourth in all of his previous presidential bids. This time, with President Kerekou and former President Nicephore Soglo both excluded, due to age restrictions, he is viewed as a likely bet to make it to a second round.

Benin's constitution bars candidates over the age of 70 from running for president.

Observers say his experience in government, as well as his name recognition should help him at the polls. But critics say voters could see him as partially responsible for Benin's current economic woes, due to his recent service in the Kerekou government.

Polls open Sunday for the first round of Benin's presidential election. If no single candidate wins more than 50 percent of the ballots cast, a second round will take place two week later.

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