Ex-dictator calls for calm in upcoming presidential elections in Benin

COTONOU, March 9, 2011 (AFP) – Benin’s former dictator Mathieu Kerekou has urged candidates in Sunday’s presidential ballot to ensure a calm vote after controversy over the electoral list led to two postponements. Kerekou, who came to power after a 1972 coup, was later elected president and led the country for a total of some three decades, issued the appeal in a rare public statement late Tuesday. “I would like to humbly invite the candidates for the highest public office in our country to show restraint so that presidential elections are held peacefully and with respect for republican values,” he said in the televised statement. He said all political parties should adhere to a consensus reached to resolve problems with the electoral list. President Boni Yayi will be seeking a second term in Sunday’s vote, which has been postponed twice.

The opposition has claimed more than a million people were left off the electoral list, but others said the figure was much lower. Electoral officials plan to carry out a mop-up registration exercise on Wednesday and Thursday to sign up nearly 300,000 people identified as having sought to register without success. Kerekou’s Marxist rule led to multiparty democracy in 1990. He was elected president in 1996 and served until 2006.


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