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Last Updated: Friday, 3 March 2006, 10:18 GMT
Benin moves to calm poll worries
Benin election rally
This election is seen as a wide-open race
Benin's electoral commission has said Sunday's presidential poll will go ahead despite fears that more than one million ballot papers are missing.

Voter registration ended last month, yet the commission is still waiting for surplus ballot papers to be returned.

Commission spokesperson Mere Toure dismissed reports they had been stolen and said it was just a slow process.

Benin will have a new leader - as the president and his predecessor are too old to contest the polls.

President Mathieu Kerekou and his long-time rival, former President Nicephore Soglo, are both more than 70 years old.

Twenty-six candidates are contesting the poll but the front-runners are:

  • Bruno Ange-Marie Amoussou, who came fourth in three previous polls
  • Former Speaker of Parliament Adrien Houngbedji
  • Evangelical Christian Yayi Boni
  • Ex-President Soglo's son, Lehady

A candidate needs more than 50% to be elected in the first round, or a run-off will be held.

The BBC's Esther Tola in Cotonou says news about the missing ballot papers had provoked fears and anxiety that the election would be cancelled.

The voter-registration process - conducted between mid-January and the beginning of February - had caused controversy.

It is estimated that about 3.8 million people have registered to vote.

Some of the presidential candidates complained that the voter lists unveiled by the electoral commission on 26 February were false.

Q&A: Benin votes
01 Mar 06 |  Africa
Country profile: Benin
01 Feb 06 |  Country profiles

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