March 24, 2011 / 11:01 PM / in 8 years

Benin police break up protest against president's win

* Yaji was re-elected with 53.13 percent

* Opposition candidate says ballots were stuffed

COTONOU, March 24 (Reuters) - Benin security forces fired tear gas and used batons to break up a demonstration against the re-election of President Boni Yayi for a second term, injuring more than two dozen people, witnesses said on Thursday.

Some 5,000 people had gathered in the West African country’s capital, burning tires and shouting slogans claiming the March 13 vote was rigged.

Some held placards in support of opposition candidate Adrien Houngbedji, who came second in the vote according to official results ratified by Benin’s highest court. [ID:nLDE72K0KE

International observers said the vote was credible despite some failings, but Houngbedji said there had been widespread ballot-stuffing.

Benin authorities condemned the protest.

“If people want to contest the results of the elections, there are ways to do that legally. Democracy is not anarchy,” Joseph Gnonlonfoun, head of the national electoral commission, told state television.

A top regional cotton producer with a population of 9 million, Benin is one of the few countries in Africa’s “coup belt” to have successfully held free and fair elections.

Benin’s constitutional court said Yaji was re-elected with 53.13 percent against 35.64 percent for Houngbedji. (Reporting by Samuel Elijah; editing by Richard Valdmanis)

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