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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 March 2006, 09:43 GMT
Benin's new president announced
Presidential candidate Yayi Boni
Yayi Boni won about 75% of the votes on Sunday
Officials in Benin have announced that Yayi Boni is the country's new leader.

Mr Boni won almost 75% of the vote in Sunday's run-off presidential election with Adrien Houngbedji, the country's election commission said.

He will be sworn in on 6 April to replace long-time leader Mathieu Kerekou, whose age made him ineligible to stand again.

The election had some irregularities but international monitors pronounced them largely free and fair.

Voters thanked

Mr Boni said on Wednesday he would build a government of "young, clean, just and new men" to tackle poverty and corruption, according to AFP news agency.

The election commission said Mr Boni, a former development banker, won 1,969,308 votes on Sunday compared to 673,763 for Mr Houngbedji, a former speaker of the national assembly.

Turnout was 67%, compared to 70% for the first round on 5 March.

Sylvain Nouwatin, head of Benin's electoral commission, thanked voters for the ordered election process, saying: "Democracy is the sole winner."

Sunday's second round was a scramble for organisers because Mr Kerekou ignored a constitutional court ruling to postpone the run-off for three days.

Mr Boni is a newcomer to Benin's political scene and has spent a lot of time abroad.

He quit his job as president of the Togo-based West African Development Bank (BOAD), where he had worked since 1994, to join the presidential race.

As an economist, his campaign focussed on the economy and in particular reform of the cotton sector, the country's major export.

Born in 1952, into a northern Muslim family, he later became an evangelical Christian.

He is married with five children and comes from one of the country's three influential ethnic groups, the Nago.

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