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Benin president’s party wins election but fails to get majority

President Thomas Boni Yayi /AFP

President Thomas Boni Yayi /AFP

COTONOU, MAY 4- The party of President Thomas Boni Yayi won Benin’s parliamentary elections with 33 seats out of 83, but failed to secure an absolute majority, the Constitutional Court said Sunday evening.

The Beninese went to the polls on Sunday April 26 for elections regarded as a popularity test for Boni Yayi, accused by the opposition of wanting to “tinker” with the constitution to seek a third term in a presidential vote in 2016.

“Emerging Benin Party (FCBE), 33 seats,” the president of the Constitutional Court Theodore Holo said in a statement, adding that the two principal opposition parties, The Union Makes the Nation and the Democratic Renewal Party secured 13 and 10 seats respectively.

Partial results published Friday already named the FCBE as the winner, but with 32 seats instead of 33, while attributing 15 seats instead of 13 to the Union Makes the Nation party.

While the FCBE did not win an expected absolute majority, analysts say the opposition is so fragmented and unstructured that it will have to form alliances to carry any weight in the national assembly.

In total 20 parties contested the elections in the west African country of 10 million, which has 4.4 million voters.

The campaign was marked by a heated debate on a possible constitutional amendment that would allow the president to run for a third term.

Boni Yayi, who has led the small west African nation since 2006, has always denied planning to run again next year.

The president, who likes to present himself as a “Mr Clean”, has announced plans to reform the constitution to end impunity for corruption by strengthening the justice system.

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But the opposition insists the real motive of his constitutional amendment is to scrap a two-term limit on presidential mandates so that he can run again in 2016.

After voting last Sunday, Boni Yayi said he would no longer be “a candidate for anything” in the future.

A large majority would have allowed him a freer hand to carry out the constitutional amendments he wants before the end of his term.

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