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Benin's Presidential Coalition Leads in Preliminary Election Results


Provisional results in Benin's legislative poll give the coalition of President Boni Yayi the highest total with more than 20 percent of the votes. But opposition parties say the results are fraudulent. Phuong Tran has more from VOA's West Africa bureau in Dakar.

The National Electoral Commission released the preliminary results late Thursday, which have already been disputed by opposition parties, including the Alliance for a Dynamic Democracy, which appeared to be in second place with 17 percent.

Opposition party spokesman and legislative candidate, Epiphane Quenum, says his party is preparing to contest the results because of what he says were problems at the polls, including, reports of missing ballots.

"There is something wrong about these results," he said. "Many results of certain regions of the country are not found. That is why everybody [is] ready to contest these results."

National electoral commission spokesman Michel Alokpo says the constitutional court is responsible for deciding whether these voting irregularities are enough to challenge the preliminary results.

"We hear that there [is a lot] of fraud in some locations," he said. "But we are not in charge to [pursue] the fraud during this election. It is the [constitutional court] who can pursue the fraud."

Professor Roger Gbegnonvi, a member of the non-profit watchdog group Transparency International of Benin, says despite reports of irregularities, such as non-Beninese citizens being allowed to vote, he says he is confident the commission's numbers are accurate.

Gbegnonvi says every election has some reports of irregularities, but that he feels the commission has done its job well, that election observers were vigilant, and the court will confirm the results.

Opposition parties point to the five days it took to release the first results as further proof there was potential fraud. But commission spokesman Alokpo says there was no cover-up, and that vote counting in Benin is simply a long and hard job to do right.

"We have some problems in our computer section," he said. "We do not have power in our country. It is very difficult to work all the night without the power."

The commission had asked to delay the elections one week because it could not train election workers, print ballots and prepare the polls in time.

Days before the election, the commission replaced its president because it accused him of choosing a printer for the ballots that was too closely tied to the president.

According to the electoral commission, more than 2.7 million voters went to the polls to choose 83 legislators.

The constitutional court has until Monday to confirm the results from Saturday's election, which many say is a test of whether voters agree with how President Thomas Boni Yayi has done in his first year in power, and whether he will have continued support to pursue his campaign promise to fight corruption.

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