Joint UNAfrican delegation backs delaying Benins presidential election

3 March 2011A joint delegation of the United Nations, the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) officials today backed calls for delaying Benin’s presidential poll, scheduled for Sunday, to allow time to ensure that the electoral process is credible. The team “expressed its support for a postponement of the presidential elections by a few days to a date that is consistent with the deadlines prescribed by the Constitution,” according to a joint communiqué issued at the end of today’s visit.The delegation included Said Djinnit, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa; Ramtane Lamamra, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security; and James Victor Gbeho, the President of the ECOWAS Commission.They were received in Benin’s capital, Cotonou, by incumbent President Boni Yayi, and his main challenger in the poll, Adrien Houngbedji, and other officials, including the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENA).“The delegation took note of concerns expressed by various stakeholders, including candidates in the presidential election suggesting the postponement of the presidential election to make adjustments necessary for the holding of credible elections under acceptable conditions,” said the joint statement. Media reports have highlighted opposition claims that more than one million people have not been included in the voter register, which lists some 3.5 million people.The delegation encouraged stakeholders to explore all possible ways consistent with the rule of law and the Constitution to create the best conditions for holding peaceful and credible elections to preserve peace and stability and maintain national cohesion in the West African nation.“The delegation appealed to the people of Benin and their leaders to continue to demonstrate a high sense of responsibility and preserve its values of tolerance and peace at this historic moment of democratic consolidation,” the statement added.

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