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Electoral Disputes Continue Days Before Benin's Legislative Election

  • Phuong Tran

In Benin, disputes over ballots and voter registration lists have pushed preparations for Sunday's parliament election to the last minute. A spokesman with the national electoral commission says he believes ballots will be printed and distributed in time, despite this week's electoral disputes. Phuong Tran has more from VOA's West Africa Bureau in Dakar.

The National Electoral Commission met to finalize the impeachment of its leader Antonin Akpinkoun over concerns of corruption. Commission officials accused Akpinkoun of choosing a printing company for the ballots that is closely tied to President Thomas Boni Yayi.

But the constitutional court ruled the electoral commission did not follow rules to notify all members about the impeachment.

Spokesman Michel Alokpo said the commission was meeting to comply with the ruling, so that it could install new commission president Eugene Capo Chichi.

"We need to send an official letter to each member of CENA [National Electoral Commission] and to see what will happen," he said.

In addition to concerns about corruption with the ballots, the commission has had problems getting voter registration lists from some districts.

Commission spokesman Alokpo said Wednesday that if the lists did not arrive by Thursday, the parliamentary election would not take place because the commission would not know how many ballots to print.

But the lists have started arriving.

"We [were] waiting for the lists until yesterday, but I think most of the lists [are] here now. We will do our best to organize the election. By the grace of God, I am a believer," said Alokpo.

Alokpo is hopeful a new printer can finish by Friday so the commission can distribute the ballots. He says the commission is now focused on training election observers.

"We do our best to control the fraud during this election," he added.

Benin has had multi-party elections for a little over 15 years. During most of that time, 72-year-old Mathieu Kerekou ruled until he stepped down last year because of a constitutional age limit.

Mr. Yayi, a former banker elected last year, hopes his coalition will win a parliament majority to reinforce his administration.

Accusations of fraud have plagued previous elections.

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