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Monday, 12 March, 2001, 10:26 GMT
Run-off for Benin
Supporters of President Kerekou rally
The campaign was colourful
The high court in Benin has announced results of the presidential election, eight days after the voting.

The incumbent president, Mathieu Kerekou, took 47.06% of the poll; his nearest rival, Nicephore Soglo, taking 28.94%.

The election will now have to go to a run-off vote between these two, which is provisionally set for 18 March.

The two men faced each other in run-off elections in 1991 and 1996, winning one each.

President Kerekou campaigning
Mr Kerekou: Came out top in the first round
The court said 87.66% of the nation's 3.2 million registered voters turned out.

Both contenders have been lobbying hard for the support of the many eliminated candidates.

Third-placed candidate Adrien Houngbedji, who polled 13.47%, has pledged his support for Mr Soglo.

"I will vote for Nicephore Soglo in the second round - I campaigned for a change, and between Kerekou and Soglo it is Soglo who represents change," Mr Houngbedji told reporters on Saturday.

"Nothing can stop the wind of change," he said.

The fourth-placed canbdidate, Bruno Amoussou, who received 4% of the ballot has not revealed his hand.

Democracy

Benin was one of the first African countries to embrace democracy a decade ago and has since then seen two peaceful handovers of presidential power.

Opposition leader Nicephore Soglo
Mr Soglo is seeking the support of the defeated candidates
Mr Kerekou, a former Marxist military officer, made African history in 1991 when, after two decades of power which he seized in a coup d'etat, he accepted defeat in a democratic election forced on him by people tired of one-party rule.

Former dictator

He was beaten by Mr Soglo, a retired international banker. But five years later, Mr Kerekou bounced back, winning another democratic poll.

Mr Kerekou, 67, the former dictator turned democrat, has earned himself a nickname along the way - "the political chameleon".

Both men spent this campaign accusing each other of corruption and promising to reduce the price of fuel.

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10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Benin
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