Benin gvt suspends minister

2009-07-13 15:59

Cotonou - Benin's President Yayi Boni has suspended Urban Affairs Minister Francois Noudegbessi for alleged corruption, government spokesman Victor Topanou announced.

"Noudegbessi has been suspended while awaiting clarification over a matter of excess billing and the embezzlement of about 9.7 million euros (13.6 million dollars) worth of public funds" released for a regional summit, Topanou said.

He added that former finance minister Soule Mana Lawani, who was sacked three weeks ago for having ordered the release of 10.6m euros without presidential authorisation, was also a suspect.

Sources close to the presidency said Boni only found out during checks he has ordered into state finance to help his small west African country ride out the financial crisis.

Boni, a former banker, was elected president in March 2006, after pledging a fight against corruption and a return of economic growth during his election.

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