Benin court postpones presidential elections for second time

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[JURIST] The Constitutional Court of Benin [official website, in French] on Friday approved a second postponement of presidential elections following complaints that over one million people were not registered to vote. The court delayed the date [AFP report] of the presidential election from March 6 to March 13, holding that the electoral commission would not otherwise have enough time to implement measures to ensure a credible election. The head of Benin’s electoral commission, Joseph Gnonlonfoun, defended his agency [AFP report], blaming political disputes for the commission’s delay in preparing for the election. President Thomas Boni Yayi [official website, in French], who will be seeking a second term, said he supported the postponement demanded by his opposition. The UN, the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) [official websites] issued a joint communique [press release] on Thursday espousing the delay.

Benin’s presidential election was initially scheduled for February 27. Benin’s Constitution [text] requires that the first round of presidential voting be held 30 days prior to the end of the current president’s term, which is on April 6. On Friday, the National Assembly [official website, in French], Benin’s parliamentary body, approved a law [AFP report] that overrules the constitutional provision and would allow the election postponement.

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