Benin parly okays law on vote delay

2011-03-04 11:13

Porto Novo - Benin's parliament on Friday approved a law aimed at again postponing Sunday's presidential elections amid allegations that a million people have been excluded from the voter roll.

The law, which still must be approved by President Boni Yayi, comes after the UN and African Union backed postponing Sunday's vote after holding talks with the head of state, his main opponent and electoral officials.

Lawmakers called on electoral officials to ensure everyone of voting age has the right to cast ballots.

"The said measures aimed at facilitating the vote must be completed in a timeframe of five days," the law says.

The United Nations and African Union delegation, which also included West African bloc Ecowas, said they supported a delay of a "few days".

Language included in the law is also aimed at overriding constitutional rules that require the first-round of the presidential vote to be held 30 days before the end of the president's term, which is April 6.

The constitutional court was expected to issue an opinion on the matter, possibly on Friday.

Elections have already been postponed once - they were originally set for February 27 - and problems with the organisation have been evident in the West African nation this week.

Electoral cards were still being distributed and there have been warnings that the process cannot be completed before Sunday.

Yayi will be seeking a second term in the election, but faces a strong challenge from his main opponent Adrien Houngbedji, who is supported by many of the traditional political elites in the former French colony.

The other major candidate in the race is Abdoulaye Bio Tchane, a former president of the West African Development Bank.