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Friday, 6 April, 2001, 12:37 GMT 13:37 UK
Benin 'day of mourning'
Supporters of President Kerekou rally
The election was seen as a national embarrassment
Benin's opposition leader, Nicephore Soglo, has declared Friday as a day of mourning following the swearing-in of President Mathieu Kerekou.

Opposition leader Nicephore Soglo
Mr Soglo: Pulled out of run-off alleging fraud
Mr Kerekou won his second term in office by a large margin but his two main rivals, including Mr Soglo, refused to stand in the second round of voting alleging widespread fraud.

Several other African heads of state, including those of Ivory Coast, Ghana and Gabon attended the swearing-in ceremony.

The country's autonomous electoral commission said Mr Kerekou took 84% of the vote in the second round.

'Flawed'

Mr Kerekou's only challenger was cabinet minister Bruno Amoussou.

Nicephore Soglo and the Speaker of Parliament, Adrien Houngbedji, both got more votes than Mr Amoussou but said they did not want to legitimise the election.

Turnout for the second round of voting was low, with reports saying that in Cotonou, only a trickle of people went to the polling stations.

This is in contrast to the queues seen in the first round.

Survivor

President Kerekou seized power in a coup in 1972. Voted out in 1991, he won a surprise election victory in 1996.

Apart from that five-year gap, he has dominated political life in Benin for most of the past 30 years.

The whole election process was marked by rows and recriminations.

President Kerekou campaigning
Mr Kerekou has dominated Beninois politics
Nine members of the national electoral commission, Benin's constitutional court, resigned after the body was fiercely criticised for giving out false results.

A huge number of votes appear to have gone missing.

Benin's press has given a highly negative account of what now appears to be something of a national embarrassment.

But observers say Mr Kerekou will probably ride out any criticism.

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See also:

25 Mar 01 | Africa
Benin president re-elected
21 Mar 01 | Africa
Benin poll further undermined
10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Benin
12 Mar 01 | Africa
Run-off for Benin
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