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Benin's Lawmakers Vote to Change Constitution

Members of parliament in Benin have voted to change the country's constitution, extending their terms in office by one year.

Local media report the controversial vote took place behind closed doors late Friday night. An overwhelming majority of members voted for the change, with 71 members supporting the change and eight against it.

Benin's constitution grants lawmakers four-year terms. The next legislative election is scheduled for early next year.

If the change is approved by the country's constitutional court, terms will be five years and legislative elections will be pushed back to 2008.

Lawmakers argued that the change would bring their elections in line with presidential elections. They are held every five years in the Benin.

Opposition groups said changing the constitution threatens the west African country's young democracy and is merely a power grab by members of the national assembly.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.