Benin minister held in fraud probe

2013-01-22 15:55
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Cotonou - Benin authorities on Tuesday detained a government minister in a probe into alleged embezzlement linked to abandoned plans to build a new parliament building for the West African nation.

Blaise Ahanhanzo-Glele, environment and urban development minister, becomes the ninth person detained this month over the project on which the government has spent about 12 billion CFA ($24m).

The minister is a former opposition figure who joined President Thomas Boni Yayi's government after he was re-elected in 2011 in the nation of some nine million people.

"Minister Ahanhanzo is detained over the investigation into embezzlement regarding the construction of the National Assembly building," public prosecutor Justin Gbenameto told AFP.

The others previously detained in the probe include a former urban development minister, Francois Nougbegbessi. Construction began on the new building in 2009 in the political capital Porto Novo, but was later abandoned.

The case is among several in Benin targeting high-profile figures, including one involving an alleged plot to poison Yayi that resulted in arrests in October.

Some have accused the presidency of targeting its enemies, but Yayi, whose term as African Union chairman is set to end this month, has claimed to be working to curb corruption and government officials have strongly defended the probe into the alleged poison attempt.

Read more on:    benin  |  west africa

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