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Independent Boni wins Benin presidential vote

Written by: Staff

COTONOU, Mar 22 (Reuters) Independent candidate Yayi Boni, a newcomer to Benin's political scene, was elected president after winning a run-off election, the West African nation's electoral commission said today.

Boni, a former head of the West African Development Bank, took 74.51 percent of the vote in Sunday's second-round poll, beating veteran politician Adrien Houngbedji. Voter turnout in the poll was 67 percent, the commission said.

Boni succeeds Mathieu Kerekou, 72, who has led the small cotton-producing country for all but five of the past 33 years.

Kerekou was barred from standing again by a constitutional two-term cap as well as an age limit.

Kerekou, and some candidates, had denounced irregularities in the running of the first round vote, which Boni led without securing the 50 percent needed to win outright. But the country's highest court said those results were fair.

Reuters DH VP0220

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