Tens of thousands march in Benin to demand government schedule local elections


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COTONOU, Benin — Tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of Benin's largest city on Thursday, demanding that the government schedule repeatedly delayed local elections.

The march through Cotonou, the West African nation's commercial capital, was organized by opposition parties upset that elections originally scheduled for March 2013 have not taken place. They were initially postponed until December 2013 because of issues with voter registration lists. The government most recently promised to hold them before the end of 2014.

The march comes a day after a similar one in the capital, Porto-Novo.

"If the government is incapable of organizing elections, let them say it and the people will take up their responsibilities," said Stanislas Houngbédji, an opposition leader. "Enough is enough."

As the opposition protesters wound their way through Cotonou, backers of President Boni Yayi took another route through the city to express their support for him.

Political tension over the local elections has been exacerbated by the fact that the opposition also suspects that Yayi is trying to change the constitution so he can run for a third term in 2016.

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