Benin president pardons alleged plotters after French mediation

COTONOU Wed May 14, 2014 8:11pm EDT

Chairman of the African Union and Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi speaks during a meeting with Canada's Governor General David Johnston (not pictured) at Rideau Hall in Ottawa January 9, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Chairman of the African Union and Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi speaks during a meeting with Canada's Governor General David Johnston (not pictured) at Rideau Hall in Ottawa January 9, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Chris Wattie

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COTONOU (Reuters) - Benin's President Boni Yayi has publicly pardoned those accused of trying to poison him in an alleged 2012 coup attempt after the mediation of international figures, including the president of France.

The intrigue had fomented tensions in the tiny West African state, a cotton grower that has otherwise enjoyed relative political stability since multi-party democracy was introduced in the 1990s.

"I have decided to pardon them," Yayi said on state television on Wednesday night.

Those accused of the plot, which never got off the ground, included millionaire cotton magnate Patrice Talon and Yayi's personal doctor. France refused to extradite Talon late last year saying it was not clear he would get a fair trial.

Yayi said French President Francois Hollande and Abdou Diouf, the former Senegalese president who now heads the International Organisation of La Francophonie, had played key roles in Yayi's clemency.

In his statement, Yayi said that Talon, who backed Yayi during his 2006 presidential campaign before falling out with him in 2011, had apologized for being politically active and pledged to end all such activities.

It was not immediately clear when the co-accused would be freed.

(Reporting by Samuel Elijah; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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