Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Questions linger after Benin’s local elections

Doubts have been cast on Benin’s local and municipal elections, held Sunday, where voters attempted to cast ballots for more than 26,000 candidates.

Claiming the polls suffered from “inadequate practical or organizational preparation,” ECOWAS monitors have called voting to take place in five southern localities where people could not cast ballots. In other areas, monitors reported that ballots ran out in some polling stations and party symbols and names were missing from others.

Voice of America reported Sunday that many of the 5,000 polls opened late.

A Beninois journalist told VOA that issues stemmed from “complications” from the autonomous election board, which was attempted to hold two elections – ministerial councils and local councils – were held the same day. That sentiment backed up by President Boni Yayi, who spoke Sunday night.

Benin is generally ranked favorably by Political- and Human-Rights organizations. Freedom House, from the United States, which concentrates mostly on political freedom and civil liberties, terms the country “free.” Using indicators like safety and security, economic opportunity, rule of law and transparency, the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance ranked the country 13 (out of 48) sub-Saharan African governments.