Benin opposition candidates demand another poll delay

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 9:43 AM

COTONOU (Reuters) - A group of candidates vying in Benin's presidential poll due this weekend, demanded on Thursday that the poll be delayed for another week so that more voters omitted from the voters roll may be registered.

If accepted, it would be the third delay in the election initially planned for February 27.

The country's top legal body last Friday authorized a one-week delay so that complaints over voter cards and election lists could be resolved.

"The law that had allowed the second postponement was not properly applied since the same problems remain to this day," the group made up of 11 of the 13 presidential candidates said in a statement.

The group said an international audit of voters registers should be carried out and voters roll be published in all polling stations before any election is held.

"We demand a postponement of at least a week so as to include all those who are not in the electoral register," Victor Tokpanou, a candidate and spokesman for the group said.

Marcel de Souza, spokesman for incumbent President Boni Yayi had said on Tuesday that no further postponement was possible.

Hundreds of people surged at registration centers on the penultimate day for voter registration while thousands, unable to register, took to the streets of the main city Cotonou on Thursday, demanding the postponement of the elections.

Benin, a top regional cotton producer with a population of 9 million, is one of the few countries in Africa's "coup belt" to have successfully held free and fair elections.

(Reporting by Samuel Elijah, Writing by Bate Felix)