Thursday, June 4, 2009


Opposition coalition accuses the Government

Due to the ongoing dramas taking place in Benin healthcare system, the several and repeated strikes in the healthcare sector resulting in the death of children and pregnant women, the Opposition coalition of G4, G13 and Force Clé voices its indignation. The Opposition leaders accuse President Boni Yayi’s Government of what they see as indifference on its part. Here is the joined statement that they released on Monday, May 25, 2009:

Health centers, at district level, at commune level, at the level of the sanitary areas, in fact have been no longer working. In the best case, one meet Monday and Friday, some health workers frustrated and deluded. The people, confused, are now forced to turn either to self-medication or to private healthcare centers, of which most of the best are poorly supervised, with neither the staff nor the appropriate equipment. In public health, dramas are being played daily, with losses of human lives, including children and pregnant women.

This long paralysis almost incomprehensible of the health system in our country is due, according to the workers and leaders of different labor unions to:

- A lack of medical equipment;

- A lack of staff in all medical professions;

- Disparities or inequities in payments of a number of financial gains owed to workers (bonuses, allowances ...)

- Promises or unfulfilled commitments regarding professional reclassification or transfer of a number of workers in the health sector, poor management of human resources.

The FCBE/UMPP State, its government and its head, up to day, have not felt the need to give any explanation or even any attention to the cries of distress of the population and health personnel. President Yayi Boni and his government so love the people that they leave them dying in silence. Those who are alive are struggling in this situation of acute social crisis and insecurity. They are drenched with the immoral shuttle of official vehicles and bustle of the "presidential visits" punctuated with meetings of propaganda, and "ministerial visits" including the visit of the Minister of Health in "search of arable land" and "young people to recruit into agriculture ", and "explanations tours" of ministers, of heads of central public administration, culminating in marches of support, religious cults of support and even adulation and praise to the glory of the President of the Republic. Some media organizations, especially the State media, lack neither the zeal, nor the ingenuity to fill our ears, our eyes, and our minds. In addition, in the silence, children, pregnant women, poor people have been dying before the closed door of the care and delivery room.

Faced with this situation, political organizations united in the Union makes the Nation (G4, G13 and Force Clé).

- Express their sincere sympathy with the Beninese people of urban and rural areas for the human, moral and material dramas they have been undergoing because of the almost complete paralysis of the health system in our country;

- Strongly denounce the indifference displayed by the Government and its head and diversionary maneuvers organized to hide the real suffering of our people and divert attention, including attention of foreign public opinion, to images falsely idyllic regarding the country’s situation

- Require that the Government start without delay, direct, frank and open dialogue with employees about the problems they pointed out, that it resolve them diligently, instead of running away from the real problems and engaging in an illegal and morally offensive campaign;

- Ask MPs to question the Government on the crisis in the health sector;

- Call on workers, including health workers of all categories, to be patient, reasonable, but also open to dialogue, so that the talks with the Government lead as earlier as possible to a resumption of work in the highest interest of the overwhelming majority of citizens, who have been arrogantly laughed at by a minority which came to power under the conditions that you know, and wishes to confiscate this power through diversion and propaganda.

The Union makes the Nation calls on all genuine democrats in our country to commit themselves further to sensitizing and raising the consciousness of our people, so that they are not, once again, deceived or being the victims of demagoguery and populism, for none will be allowed anymore to say, "We did not know" or "We have fooled ourselves." The more profound is the night, the nearer is the day.

Cotonou, 25 May 2009

Coordination of Unit makes the Nation


The event was celebrated at South Africa Embassy

At the South African Embassy in Cotonou, Benin officials, local diplomatic community, and South Africans living in Benin met late Wednesday evening to celebrate the end of the apartheid regime on March 17, 1992 thanks to a referendum, which resulted in the abolition of the system of racial discrimination in place in South Africa.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

The Benin Government was represented at the ceremony by a delegation headed by Mr. Désiré Adadja, Minister in charge of Communication and Information Technology and Mr. Justin ADAMAI, Minister in charge of Environment and Ecology. Other institutions were also represented. The Chairman of the Constitutional Court, Robert Dossou represented his Institution. Joseph Gnonlonfoun represented the Audiovisual and Communication High Authority (HAAC), Moïse Mensah represented the High Commissar of Concerted Governance. There were also MPs who attended the ceremony

The ceremony scheduled to start at 7 p.m. began with the National Anthems of both countries. Then the South African Ambassador in Benin, Sikose Ntombazana Mji, delivered her speech. In her address, after pointing out the progress made by South Africa since the end of apartheid regime in 1992, she related the involvement of South Africa at the AU level for the setting up of NEPAD and MAEP and the history of diplomatic relationships between Benin Republic and Republic of South Africa. She also praised the economical and diplomatic relationships between both countries that she qualified them as excellent. She talked about the investment of MTN in the GSM sector in Benin and the presence on Benin market of different foods and drinks made in South Africa. She concluded by expressing her desire for these relationships to improve further.

Désiré Adadja, on his part, as the representative of Benin Government, called to the minds of the attendance the economical and political achievements of South Africa since the end of the apartheid regime. He emphasized the role of its leaders, Nelson Mendela, Tabo M’Béki and so on. He expressed his satisfaction and admiration with the involvement of South African leadership in conflict prevention and resolution on the continent. He said that the Benin Government feels deeply grateful towards South Africa. Finally, he congratulated the current South African President, Jacob Zuma for his election in the last April.

He ended his address by hoping that the relationships between both countries be deepened, extended, and diversified. It was an occasion for both countries to reaffirm their commitments to African Unity. Afterwards, a cocktail party took place in the Embassy.

This celebrate was actually due to take place on April 27, which was the day, in 1994, when the first democratic election was held in South Africa, an election during which all adults could vote irrespective of their race, and the day, in 1997, when the new constitution took effect.

Before then, since the end of World War II in the 40’s, the country has been under apartheid regime. With the enactment of apartheid laws in 1948, racial discrimination was institutionalized. Race laws touched every aspect of social life, including a prohibition of marriage between non-whites and whites, and the sanctioning of ``white-only'' jobs. In 1950, the Population Registration Act required that all South Africans be racially classified into one of three categories: white, black (African), or colored (of mixed decent).

In late 1991, the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA), a multiracial forum set up by de Klerk and Mandela, began efforts to negotiate a new constitution and a transition to a multiracial democracy with majority rule. In March 1992, voters in a referendum open only to whites endorsed constitutional reform efforts by a wide margin.
This kind of ceremony at the South African Embassy in Cotonou aiming at celebrating this major turning point in the country’s history is the first since this Embassy has been installed in Benin in 2007.

Friday, May 22, 2009


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Boni Yayi sets up a new political coalition

Over 180 political parties and 150 political associations met on Saturday, May 16, 2009, at Palais des Congrès in Cotonou to set up a formal alliance, UMPP (in French: Union pour la Majorité Présidentielle Plurielle) which is supposed to assure a clear victory to Boni Yayi in the March 2011 presidential race.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

Birth of this coalition marks a turning point in Benin politics and indicates Boni Yayi in order to win March 2011 race intends to broaden his political base by opening the access to his camp to more political parties and associations.

President Boni Yayi in his opening statement pointed out that the newly born Alliance should be seen as a gathering of all those who care for Benin development. Accordingly, he invited all other political forces to come together to build the country with him

However, he made very clear that as the Head of State, he is the President of all Beninese and therefore has bias for neither side, nor a political party. Both Amos Elègbè who is one of the major actors behind this Alliance and Idrissou Ibrahima also raised this point.

According to Idrissou Ibrahima, the concept of plural majority responds to the fact that political parties, coalitions of political parties and associations that make up the UMPP retain their autonomy while conforming to the decisions of the Alliance.

Boni Yayi, who is faced with an opposition coalition made up of G4, G13, and Force Clé, knows he cannot rely on an eventual break of this opposition alliance to win the next presidential elections. Therefore, he has decided in the end to unify all the political organizations, which are allied to him. By doing so, he hopes to have a unified and cohesive coalition, which is supposed to increase his chances in these elections.

Many political associations or parties which claim to be backing Boni Yayi’s Government have several times expressed frustrations about the fact that the ruling FCBE has all the time been the only political force the Head of State has actually been relying on. So, the setting up of UMPP is an attempt on the part of Boni Yayi to heal divisions within his camp whose scale is broader than the ruling FCBE.

Since the start of the democratic era in 1990, it is the first time in Benin political history, the Head of State has openly been involved in the formation of an alliance intending to support him.

This is being seen differently in the media. For some, UMPP might be a powerful tool that, if appropriately controlled, can help Boni Yayi secure his reelection. It can also be seen as a sign of the ability of Boni Yayi to undertake political initiatives to oppose his adversaries and thwart their plans.

Many local councilors, members, or even MPs of the opposition parties have defected to join his camp recently. Then, all this may be a positive sign indicating he has been consolidating his grip on the political landscape.

However, other analysts view the birth of UMPP as something that might deepen the division within the ruling FCBE. Since it may increase the already existing rivalries within the presidential camp and lead to its implosion.

In an act of defiance, some FCBE MPs have recently attempted unsuccessfully to form a parliamentary group. The reason behind this inner rebellion was, according to many, due to the defection from G13 Alliance of MP Rachidi Gbadamassi who is said to have been bribed into joining the presidential camp.

The arrival of Rachidi Gbadamassi has triggered this rebellion because it increases the number of rivals within the ruling FCBE. Therefore, the same scenario could take place if many former outsiders were allowed in.

There are analyses suggesting this kind of Alliance in the presidential camp is not something new as there have been many political associations set up to back the President Boni Yayi.

Moreover, it is reported the Executive Board of the newly born Alliance is yet to be installed, as there have already appeared rivalries over who should head it. Some FCBE members suggest they are the ones that should naturally head the Alliance but the smaller political parties think they should have their say.

In such a situation even if this new Alliance might be useful to Boni Yayi to secure his reelection, it is yet to be proven so. Talking about Boni Yayi’s rush in his crusade for his reelection, one Journalist of the daily newspaper, Le Matinal writes: « By accepting the support of Rachidi Gbadamassi, the same that used to vilify him just moment ago and he himself has described as not very advisable as friend, he has alienated the backing of some politicians and the public disenchanted with his governance and his acquaintances with those he formally saw as robbers. This proves that the Head of State does not know either those who are his friends or those who are his opponents. He lacks the ability to indentify those who will be useful to him... »


Former Minister, Constitutional Judge dies in Benin

A former Beninese Minister and current member of the Constitutional Court, Robert Tagnon, died on Sunday, May 17, 2009, of a protracted illness.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

Robert Tagnon died at the National University Hospital Center (CNHU) Hubert Maga Koutoukou in Cotonou.

While he was waiting to undergo a surgery over peritonitis in the evening this Sunday, Robert Tagnon died around 7 P.M. His death reduces the number of Constitutional Judges from seven to six. In fact, it is as a personality with professional renown, a status provided by the Constitution, that he used to sit in the high Court on behalf of the Government.

In case like this one, as required by the organic law of the high court in its article 13, the vacuum caused by his death will be filled with a successor within fifteen days.

The deceased was minister in the government of President Emile Derlin Zinsou in 1968. Under the revolutionary regime, he had been jailed with a certain Saka Fikar for many years.

At the Conference of the Active Forces of the Nation in February 1990, his civil rights were restored thanks to a general pardon. He became Minister in charge of Planning in President Nicéphore Dieudonné Soglo’s government, as Soglo was the first president elected after the start of the democratic era.

In February 2002, he responded to a call from Bruno Amoussou, Minister of State in Kérékou government, as chargé de mission although he was an opposition member. Afterwards, he has returned to anonymity until his appointment, by President Yayi Boni as Constitutional Judge.

Therefore, he used to sit as the six other members of the Court, Robert Dossou, Théodore Holo, Clémence Gnimbéré Dansou, Ali Zime Yerima, Marcelline Gbêha, and Bernard Dégboé after he swore in on the late June 6. He died at the age of 74.

Benin Politics : EU-BENIN

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European Union grants Benin CFA F 33 billion budgetary aid

The European Union (EU) has granted Benin a budgetary aid of 50.5 milllion Euros (about CFA F 33 billion) for the 2009-2011 period, sources close to the Union delegation told PANA here on Monday.


The aid granted, in the form of a donation to strengthen Benin's national budget, aims at supporting the country in implementing the Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy (PRGS) in a bid to meet the Millenium Development Goals.

It is the first stage of a general budgetary support of 100 million Euros as part of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).

With the amount, the EU support has now grown from 10 million Euros annually (CFA F 6.5 billion) to Euros 16.5 million Euros (or CFA F 10.8 billion).

Apart from this support, Benin and the EU also signed, on Thursday, a codicil to the National Indicative Program to increase, by 1.42 million Euros, aid from the EDF, to compensate and help ACP countries face instability in their exports.

The amount will be granted besides the budgetary aid with the disbursement of the annual amount for the year 2010.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Boni Yayi institutes award in honor of late prelate

Beninese Head of State Boni Yayi on Wednesday evening in Cotonou institutionalized an award in memory of the late Beninese prelate, Cardinal Bernardin Gantin.


Tagged the “Cardinal Bernardin Gantin International Great Award,” it is being sponsored by the government and the clergy.

It is aimed at recognizing the efforts of men, women, and institutions that distinguished themselves in the service of humanity.

Cardinal Gantin, who died on 13 May 2008 at the age of 80, was the dean of the College of the Cardinals of the Vatican and occupied top posts in the Catholic Church and within the Vatican.

Benin Politics : BENIN POLITICS

Where does RB stands?

There have been reports in the media about a crisis meeting, which took place at the Party headquarters in Cotonou and gathered the members of Executive Board on late Wednesday, May 13, 2009 from 7 P.M. to 1 A.M. local time.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

Two years ahead of next presidential elections due to take place in March 2011, on the political scene, the position of Renaissance du Bénin, whose stand might condition the outcome of this election, is still unclear.

The meeting was reported to be so tense and the differences of views were openly voiced. For the hardliners, the leader of BR group in National Assembly has been misleading the Party. Many BR activists share this view and see the successive votes of the Party in favor of the presidential camp in the National Assembly as a grave mistake on the part of Rosine Soglo, the Party Chairwoman.

The strongest adversary of Mrs. Soglo in RB right now is Léhady Soglo who happens to be her son. While Léhady Soglo and his father, the former Head of State, Nicéphore Soglo think, BR has nothing to gain in collaborating with Boni Yayi’s Government and that it should remain part of the opposition coalition of G4, G13, and Force Clé, Rosine is said not to trust the other party leaders involved in this Alliance.

The newspapers have also reported that before this BR Executive Board meeting, there was a face-to-face encounter late in the evening on Tuesday, May 12, 2009 between the Head of State, Boni Yayi and Renaissance of Benin Chairwoman, Rosine Soglo. This visit of Boni Yayi to Mrs. Soglo has been seen as an occasion for the Head of State to thank her for her support to the presidential camp in National Assembly.

The RB Executive Board meeting has been convened after Benin National Assembly finally passed on Monday, May 04, 2009, the LEPI (Voters Registry Computerization Act in French, Liste Electorale Permanente Informatisée) act opening the way for its implementation.

The passing of this draft law in National Assembly was made possible thanks to RB. The Party has sided with the ruling FCBE to vote in favor of the bill while the opposition coalition of G4, G13 and Force Clé to which belongs RB has agreed to vote against it.

Since the formation of the G4 Alliance following the March 2008 joined declaration and during the Seminar of Common Return held in October 2008, where the opposition coalition has expressed its disapproval about the way Boni Yayi has been administering public affairs, RB has never been constant in its standing.

Therefore, many analysts in media still question the ability of opposition coalition to achieve its aim that is to oust Boni Yayi in the upcoming presidential race due to take place in March 2011.


« Almighty Money threatens Beninese democracy»

As corruption has become a chronic illness of Benin politics with MPs defecting from one camp to another, the well-known journalist, columnist, and analyst Léo BRATHIER from the daily newspaper, L’Autre Quoditien has voiced his concerns. Here is what he has to say:

Translated by Alfred Cossi Chodaton

«Almighty Money has insidiously invaded Beninese democracy. This evil is not specific to a particular government. It is a social phenomenon. Since the start of the democratic era, in fact, it has begun to expand in such a scale that it has been pushing the boundaries of ethics. The politicians involved in political corruption, do not even seem to bother about any sense of decency to acknowledge its existence and even to try to justify it.

An attitude that an article issued by L’Autre Quotidien yesterday pointed out in the title: «Transhumance and bribe of conscience: serious ethical problems for National Assembly. » Then, as to illustrate the comments made by this article and justify what it reveals as an admission or suspicion of bribery of MP, our colleague of "Fraternité" yesterday interviewed a MP from the presidential camp over the act of the spectacular realignment of one its most truculent opponents. He, in his turn, suggested, «there are people that you can not get close to, and people you can get close to, and just give them two or three "things" and change their minds. » A reality or a feeling? For some, if they blame themselves, they know the nature of the phenomenon. He went on, responding to a question about the difficult collaboration with his former political adversary, with whom he used to play the dog and the cat, only a few months ago, to say: « Politics is a game of interest. The interest is not necessarily money ... It is the fact of having a special reason for being here or there »

Speaking about the return of his former opponent, he continued his argument: «... the day his interest will not be safeguard here, he will leave» It is clear for the voter what are the real motivations of MPs that they have elected to defend his or her interests! These interests are supposed to the ones of their constituents rather than their own. However, the MP has no obligation of accountability towards people over his materially motivated reversals, and the people do have no opportunity to sanction him other that the elections. Of course, if the voter himself, has not been bribed into voting against his own will.

Therefore, in a context where Almighty Money conditions politics, the legitimate aspirations of people, ethics that found democratic culture, are obviously forgotten. As the reality of political corruption is, as such that it causes the political institutions and citizens to consider unavoidable the effect of money and admit by cynicism or disappear no political choice will hold if it is not “bought” with money. By contagion effect, this type of corruption has even spread in all elective activities within the associations and professional corporations. We may falsely argue that we live a century marked by the death of all ideologies and the perverse and cynical realism, is the norm. Everyone does with this reality because in a poor society like ours, the fact that one does not accept it is a defection. And these societies divided between materialistic motives and traditional ethics, will judge you with the prism of this realism, generally as a failure, even if consciously it is assumed that those who do not aligned on this pseudo standard, is a « honest man». The Almighty Money has destroyed all beliefs. Moreover, the best ones will not necessarily be the most deserving ones, the most conscientious, hard-working, and honest ones. The world of the Almighty Money belongs to «the smarter one» not always in the sense of positive intelligence, but in the sense of opportunism. At the point where we are on this phenomenon, it is necessary to wonder if it is still possible that Benin democracy – that hypocritically continues to viewed as a laboratory for Africa – gets itself out of the kind of perversion of political corruption and ideological annihilation. Since the most pernicious corruption to our developing societies, is not certainly the one that has been vilified through the major scandals evoked in the media and relates to those who run public affairs or corporations. However, it is the one, which insidiously begins to become the norm in politics especially in the electoral realm and in the administration of our political national life. A democracy, where it is acceptable at all levels of society and institutions that all is buyable as vulgar goods, is not predestined to a much bright future. »


RB MP dies in car crash

Renaissance du Bénin, the Party of the former Head of State, Nicéphore Soglo, who happens to be Cotonou Mayor, is bereaved by the death of one of its MP, Paulin Tomanaga. He passed away after a car accident on last Thursday, May 07, 2009.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

Paulin Tomanaga, died on Thursday evening at Cotonou National University Health Centre (CNHU), following a road accident, which occurred, on his way to his hometown, Abomey city, in the central region of the country. Therefore, Benin National Assembly is once again grieving.

According to reports, the MP left Cotonou around 1 P.M. for Bohicon. However, he will never reach his destination. Up to Hinvi neighborhood, the MP’s vehicle went under a parked jumbo jet. Tomanaga's driver died on the spot as the car collided violently with the truck about 60 km north of Cotonou.

Lately, Tomanaga, 73 years old, was Tuesday appointed second reporter of National Assembly’s Education Committee by his colleagues to represent the institution at the High Court of Justice.

At the residence of Paulin Tomanage, people were consternated. Just in a short time, nearly the whole Municipal Council of Bohicon was present at his house to inform and support the family of the dead.

Some BR members called by phone could not express their emotion, as their pain was obviously overwhelming. The same goes for some MPs who could not believe what they were hearing.

It should be remembered that before being elected as a member of parliament, Paulin Tomanage was Bohicon Mayor. He is a devoted Christian Catholic, married and father to four boys. He was also the Parish Church of Saint Charles Louanga Board’s Chairman in his hometown. The name of his substitute is Wohou Donatien, currently member of Bohicon Municipal Council.


Gbadamissi explains why he resigned

Since he made public his resignation from G13 Alliance and his alignment to the presidential camp during a press conference on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 in Parakou, MP Rachidi Gbadamassi, who used be an adversary of President Boni Yayi, has be outside the country. On his arrival from Paris, on Sunday, May 10, 2009, he made a statement confirming his new entente with Boni Yayi’s camp.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

At the Cadjéhoun airport, where his show attracted many, he made a statement aiming at explaining to the public the real motives behind his defection. To him, by joining the presidential camp and defecting from G13 Alliance, he has chosen to side with the people. He went on to warn his former allies. Here is what he had to say:

«Let me, before anything; thank the newspapers, because you contribute to the entrenchment of democracy. I thank all those who spoke either in a positive way or in a negative one. This is about the stake of democracy’s vitality in Benin. As a democrat, I can only agree with the vibrancy of Benin democracy. In a democratic State, none can prevent others from saying what they think. Today, I intend to make a declaration and not a press conference. The press conference will be on the ground in the eighth constituency. Then, we will see who is who. For the meantime, I can assure you the playtime has come to an end. The time has come for truth to come out. The time of reconciliation with the people has come. The time for Benin harmonious development has come. The time for reconciliation with our conscience has come. There is not more unworthy and more despicable man than someone that does things and refuses to take responsibility for them, especially when these acts are in the interest of the people. Is not there a local maxim that says: “while you do not know where you are going, at least you know where you have come from?” I did things and I take responsibility for them. I am not someone who runs away from his responsibilities. My friends know me. The man, who cannot die, cannot live. I am a man of character and that is why I address you, dear people of the 8th that gave me the mandate to represent you in National Assembly. Who am I not to listen to the voice of the people? Who am I not to hear the voice of my electorate? Who am I not to listen to the dignitaries and religious denominations? When you enjoy such a popular support among the people, there are things that you cannot afford to do. One does not play with the people’s interests. Who am I to go against the will of the people of Dassa, Malanville, Cotonou? Who am I not to answer the voice of conscience? One must be guided by common sense. It would not be possible for me to have a morality different from the one of my constituents. It is true. I had to choose between my friends and my constituents. I preferred the latter. I offer my apologies. I could not do otherwise. The circumstances have led me to decide in favor of voters. The degree of the politician is the people. If the people leave him, he has no more political future. If my friends do not understand my choice, may they forgiven me! I found myself in the same position as the General Kérékou at the National Conference. He followed the will of the people and rejected his political friends. History finally proves him right. I hope they join me soon. As for you, my dear brother and friend, MP Issa Salifou, for all that you gave, I have been awaiting you on the other side. The bank that must be yours. We must free ourselves from the politicians who manipulate us against the will of the people. I prayed and asked God. If I am wrong by going to Dr. Yayi Boni, may God give all the strengths to Saley to get me back! If not, I brought the G13 to development. The past misunderstandings with the Government are the result of a lack of dialogue. I know you are a believer and you are aware of the power of Allah. For my yesterday’s friends, the only dominant philosophy is the change of driver. However, who will replace the current valid driver. Will the replacement be better or worse? They had no answer to all these concerns. It is change or nothing else, even if the boat, Benin would capsize. I am not a deluge maker. I am a true nationalist and panafricanist. I am politically stable. That is what pushed me to the resignation from G13. One knows when it all starts, but never when it might end up.

And you, President Boni Yayi, you are the father of the nation. I was with General Kérékou, who after a very heated debate, asked me to support you. I have decided, after a profound thinking, to act in accordance with the wise advice of this great man and stop my political guerilla warfare against you. I will support your actions in favor of the country’s development, reveal what might be wrong, and make the appropriate proposals. My only advice to you is to focus on political and social dialogue. Tonight, I take responsibility for my views and I support your good works in favor of the country’s development and the achievement of peaceful democracy. I ask my friends not to use verbal attacks and manipulation of media against me, so that I do not have to respond scathingly. They know me and I know them. I am an independent or related to a political party. In the days to come, if they dismiss me from the party, I will appraise this new situation. In these circumstances, I will make a detailed assessment of the Government initiatives and perform my constitutional duties with conscience. Talking about transhumance while referring to my case would be an abuse of language and unfamiliarity with the word transhumance. Finally, I simply ask everybody to retain this: Gbadamassi did not resign for selfish and individualist ends »

Friday, May 8, 2009


Prospect for Bio Tchané’s candidacy more likely than ever

During his short trip in Benin, Bio Tchané has let hints appear both in his address and in gestures which might suggest he would definitely be a contender in March 2011 presidential race.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

For a while, there has been a lot rumors coming out about his possible candidacy. Moreover, many opposition politicians have voiced their support to this possible candidature.

Of course, so far he himself has never expressed publically any opinion about his alleged willingness in taking part in the race. However, it was before he came in Cotonou on a short trip. On the sidelines of the signing of a loan agreement for the funding of the road line which links Djougou and Ouaké, Abdoulaye Bio Tchané, President of West African Development Bank (BOAD) held a press conference alongside, the WAEMU Global Economic Crisis Committee Chairman, Soumaïla Cissé at Ibis Hotel in Cotonou.

Answering the questions of the journalists about his alleged willingness to be a contender in March 2011 presidential race, Bio Tchané said, « I am aware that this issue is a concern to many of our compatriots in the country. However, elections are still two years ahead and I am a citizen like everyone else. May God allow us to live until then! »

Such a statement can be seen as a sign that the prospect for Bio Tchané’s candidacy is more likely than ever before. Bio Tchané means he, as a citizen of Benin, does not rule out the possibility of being a candidate.

Apart from this clue in his speech, one should not fail to mention the noticeable presence of some politicians who have been urging him to respond positively to the call of the citizens on him to be a candidate in March 2011 presidential race. One could refer to MP, Zoumarou Wallis, one the strongest adversaries of Boni Yayi. Last weekend on a television channel, Zoumarou Wallis once again pointed out the irreversibility of Bio Tchané’s candidacy. Former MP, Assane Seibou also attended the press conference and confirmed this candidacy when questioned by journalist. The former Minister Boubacar Arouna was also present.

After the press conference, Bio Tchané went on to an outlet located behind the National Health Training Center (CNHU), commonly called "Morgue", pretending he had been there to get some newspapers to find out about the news. Everyone knows that this is a political microcosm, which is the proper place where he could gauge his popularity. In fact, the area always booms with folk of drivers of taxi-motorbikes from all political sides gathering all the time to talk about politics. It is clear that he went there to appreciate the pulse prevailing and appraise the admiration he enjoys with this social group.

The West African Development Bank, which Bio Tchané heads as Boni Yayi’s successor, has granted Benin a USD16-million loan for the construction of the road linking Djougou-Ouaké to the country's border with Togo, according to official sources. This road construction will help open up the north-central part of the country and increase trade between Benin and its neighbors in the sub-region.

This loan might also be seen as one more sign indicating Bio Tchané is willing to respond positively to people’s call. Djougou is his hometown and as such, a prospect for him to be a candidate cannot be credible unless he gets the support of his hometown. Hence, he must use his position to get their backing. It is what he seems to be doing right now.

In early February 2009, Bio Tchané made a short trip to Djougou. It was a trip, which had been seen in the media as a test to gauge his popularity with the people of his hometown. The test at the time turned to be a success because the population was reported to have gathered along the way as his convoy passed throughout the city. At the great mosque of the city, he met the elders and the local dignitaries before holding a meeting with the municipal council, which counts on him for the development of Djougou.

Bio Tchané is also said to have the backing of both G13 Alliance, which is among the opposition forces at work for a change in Government in 2011 and the former Head of State, Mathieu Kérékou who is still an influential figure on Benin political scene.

Benin Politics : BENIN-WADB

West African Development Bank grants Benin loan to build roads

The West African Development Bank has granted Benin a USD16-million loan toward the construction of the road linking Djougou-Ouaké to the country's border with Togo, official sources told PANA here Wednesday.


Jointly financed by the Regional Integration Fund (FAIR) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), the project will help open up the north-central part of the country and increase trade between Benin and its neighbors in the sub-region.

The loan is fallout of the bank's 2009-2013 strategic plan, which aims to increase its investments in energy, road, and ports, among others, as well as improve economic integration in the sub-region.

With the latest loan, the bank's investments in Benin has reach CFA F 36.9b (US$ 73 million) over seven years.


Boni Yayi has finally won the battle

With the entire political arena, bracing itself for the next presidential elections due to take place in March 2011, LEPI act has become an important battleground where the opposition coalition and the ruling FCBE has fought each other to control the outcome of its examination in National Assembly. In end, it is the presidential camp, which has now been claiming victory, since Monday, May 04, 2009, when it was passed.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

National Assembly passed LEPI draft law by a majority vote of 64 to 00 with 01 abstention. It is a derogative law on the implementation of a permanent computerized voters registry made up of 68 articles divided in 05 chapters.

The debates were punctilious. The vote was made possible after extended discussions during which sensitive issues have been pointed out and discussed. It is foremost the subject relating to litigation in light of Benin institutions’ past failures to resolve the post electoral disputes which have erupted recently and of other cases in which their deficiencies were glaring. Opposition MPs have referred to the cases of disputes, which are still pending as well as to those previously settled and that have all the times been in favor of the Government.

In this regard, the opposition MPs have proposed that the courts of first instance are entitled to deal with any litigious case arising from the LEPI implementation. However, the President of the Law Committee rejected this approach and preferred reference to be made to the Constitutional Court.

The examination of this of law has also revealed the contradictions, which are still weakening the opposition coalition of G4, G13 and Force Clé as, for this vote, each opposition party, acted in accordance with its individual interests. RB, which is the author of one of the proposed draft laws through MP Epiphane Quenum, could not contradict itself and voted for this law. PRD MPs apparently could not reach a consensus within its own ranks. Therefore, some of its members had to leave the chamber without voting.

Therefore, the malaise within the opposition coalition seems to be getting deeper and deeper and it is likely that its cohesion will be shattered before the presidential race scheduled to take place in March 2011. If this trend does not reverse, it will diminish considerably the chance of this opposition of seizing power after these elections.

LEPI act has become something inevitable as the most of previous elections held in Benin have been marked by post electoral disputes. Moreover, the next presidential elections have been raising a lot of apprehension due to the obsession of the entire political arena with it despite the fact that it is still two years ahead.


National Assembly has passed LEPI draft law

Benin National Assembly finally passed on Monday, May 04, 2009, the LEPI (Voters Registry Computerization Act in French, Liste Electorale Permanente Informatisée) act opening the way for its implementation.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

In fact, this law, which was passed by National Assembly at Palais des Gouverneurs in Porto-Novo, is two-folded. The first is LEPI and the second one, RENA. While LEPI is about the Computerization of Voters Registry, RENA is related to the National Electoral Census. The law was passed article by article.

However, the discussions were quite divisive. The opposition coalition was divided over the issue as RB rallied behind the ruling FCBE to back the passing of the act and the other opposition parties attempted to block the vote by asking for suspensions.

It was the PRD MP, Augustin Ahouanvoébla, who requested a suspension to allow more consultation among the Parliamentarians. The Speaker of National Assembly, Mathurin Nago, submitted his request to vote. His request was rejected by a majority of 44 votes opposed to the suspension against 32 in favor of it. This majority was made possible by the backing of RB.

Shortly after, MP Timothy Gbédiga who belongs to the same parliamentary group asked for a suspension again. However, his request was also rejected the same way as the request of his peer. Therefore, National Assembly went ahead to vote the law. The most heated debate started when it came to deciding which body should take responsibility for LEPI implementation.

This vote can be seen as a major achievement for the presidential camp, which hopes that the implementation of LEPI would insure a clear victory to Boni Yayi in next presidential race scheduled to take place in March 2011. On the contrary, the attitude of RB MPs raises more doubt about the ability of the opposition coalition really to be a united front.

As all the previous elections held in Benin have been marked by post electoral disputes, the entire political scene has come to be aware of the need for computerization of voters’ registry. Nevertheless, the vote of LEPI act has been delayed because both the opposition coalition of G4, G13 and Force Clé and the ruling FCBE and its allies have been striving to dominate National Assembly and control the outcome of its examination. This is one of reasons why so many defections from one party or parliamentary group to another have been recorded lately, plunging National Assembly into crisis.

Anyway, it has finally come to be passed. There must be now among the ordinary people a sense of relief as this law can help assure a free and fair election and preserve peace in the country.


A new parliamentary group is to be set up

Last Thursday, April 30, 2009 when National Assembly met for the examination on the draft law regarding the Voters Registry Computerization Project (in French, Liste Electorale Permanente Informatisée) was marked by series of resignations from the ruling FCBE.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

The news came out as a big surprise to everybody. some FCBE MPs Edgar Alias, Adam Boni Tessy, Da Matha Sant’Anna Luc André Dassoundo, Seidou Adambi, and Janvier Yahouédéou resigned from their initial parliamentary group, Bénin Emergent Gouvernance Concertée where all the MPs belonging to presidential majority were united. Of course, Benin politics is used this kind of defection from one party or parliamentary group to another. This ongoing trend in Benin National Assembly has mainly been due to the attempts on both camps, the opposition coalition of G13, G4, and Force Clé and the presidential camp to get the majority by wooing the PMs of the advert coalition into defecting.

These latest defections came after a number of resignation. Wallis Zoumarou defected from the ruling FCBE to join the opposition Alliance G13 in November 2008. Isidore Gnonlonfoun defected from the PRD which is an opposition Party to the presidential camp in December 2008. Chabi Tokou Dari defected from the ruling FCBE to the opposition Alliance G13 in the early April 2009. And, Rachidi Gbadamassi defected from G13 Alliance to the presidential camp in the late April 2009.

However, what is the most confusing aspect of this development is the fact that the defectors who intend to form another parliamentary group named FBCE, declare they are still willing to back Boni Yayi’s Government. In order to be able to form a new parliamentary group, these MPs were joined by other MPs either from the opposition Alliance or from allied parties to the ruling FCBE. Therefore, the new parliamentary group is made up of Edgar Alia who heads it, Eloi Aho, Boni Tessi Adam, Zoumarou Walis, Da Matha Sant’Anna Luc, Dassoundo André, Gnonlonfoun Isidore, Seidou Samou Adambi, and Yahouédéou Janvier.

FCBE parliamentarians such as Yahouédéou Janvier and Da Matha Sant’Anna Luc have expressed at some occasions their disappointment over the way the country has been governed.

Nevertheless, these defections do not help anyone apprehend further, what is going on because despite their resignation from their initial parliamentary group, the dissident MPs in their statement reaffirm their support to the Head of State.
There have been many interpretations about this collective resignation. Some analysts see this as a way of signalling their frustrations over some issues among which is the attempt to poach opposition MPs in order to have a strong majority and control the vote of the LEPI draft law in National Assembly. As well as the opposition, the ruling FCBE and its allies hope to win the majority and dictate their wishes in the vote of the LEPI act. One of the most divisive aspects of this law is the choice and the composition of the institutions, which should head the process of LEPI implementation. The presidential camp intends to give the Head of State the upper hand in the appointment of the members of these important institutions.

However, in his speech delivered at the UNDP convention on Saturday, February 21, 2009, in Bohicon, Janvier Yahouédéou has expressed concerns about the approach of the President Boni Yayi over the LEPI implementation. Therefore, the formation of this new parliamentary group might be attempt to avoid the total control of the Government over LEPI because if the ruling FCBE were to have the majority in National Assembly, it would make possible for Boni Yayi to have a tight control over the LEPI implementation. By staging their defections, these MPs may hope to reduce Boni Yayi’s grip on the Parliament and therefore his control over the outcome of LEPI.

Another contentious issue, which might have triggered this series of resignation, is the defection of MP Rachidi Gbadamassi who is allegedly said to have been bribed with a lot of amount of cash into defecting the G13. There have been all sorts of rumours. Some alleged that Gbadamassi had received in exchange of his defection form the G13 Alliance about 2 billion FCFA.

It is likely that these MPs see this defection as a dangerous development which raises doubt about the credibility of Benin democracy. For these PMs, the desperate eagerness of the Head of State and his lieutenants to control the outcome of the LEPI examination causes them to use all unethical means to achieve their aims.

According to media sources, the Head of State in an attempt to diffuse the tension met the MPs of his camp on Thursday, April 30, 2009 at Presidency Palace trying to persuade them that he had never been involved in the Gbadamassi case. Nevertheless, the event at the National Assembly indicates he did not succeed in convincing them.

Anyway, the Speaker of National Assembly refused to formalize the birth of this group arguing some of its members are yet to resign from their initial group.

Lately, it is reported that the MP Adam Boni Tessy has withdrawn from the group stating that the decision of his resignation was taken in haste without throughout consideration of its implications. However, the other MPs are still determined to go ahead with their plan.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


National Assembly to pass LEPI draft law

After a long delay due the successive postponements, on Wednesday, April 30, 2009 National Assembly is due to start its examination on the draft laws regarding the Voters Registry Computerization Project (in French Liste Electorale Informatisée Permanente : LEPI).

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

There are two draft laws, which have to be examined by the Parliament tomorrow. The first one is related to RENA (in French Recensement Electoral National Approfondi), which is the National Electoral Census. It is the second draft law that is about LEPI.

There have also been two proposed bills, each one, providing respectively the framework for both RENA and LEPI to become effective. MPs Karim Chabi Sika and Epiphanius Quenum are the ones that have proposed these two bills.

The Law, Administration, and Human Right Committee of the National Assembly in its report has produced a draft law, which is the result of a combined examination on the initial bills put forward to the Speaker by MPs Karim Chabi Sika and that of Epiphanius Quenum. However, the Committee also takes into account the observations of independent experts. It is a draft law made up of sixty-six (66) articles organized into five (05) Chapters.

On Monday, April 29, 2009, National Assembly took a first major step towards the implementation of the draft law over the Voters Registry Computerization Project (in French Liste Electorale Informatisée Permanente) by passing by vote the draft law about personal data protection.

However, since the vote of LEPI act has proven to be a very sensitive issue. The presidential camp as well as the opposition coalition of G4, G13, and Force Clé intends to control the vote of the draft laws on LEPI. For each camp, the LEPI act will determine the outcome of the next presidential elections scheduled to take place in March 2011. Therefore, both sides have been striving very hard to get the majority in the National Assembly.

Because of this situation, many analysts still doubt the willingness of the Parliamentarians to go ahead with LEPI. Though both sides have expressed all the times their commitment to walk towards to the effective implementation of LEPI, nothing had been done by the National Assembly for it to become real, until the Civil Society staged a demonstration in front of Palais des Gouverneurs in Porto-Novo to put pressure on the Parliamentarians.

Moreover, some MPs mostly of the opposition coalition have still been voicing their skepticism about the possibility of organizing the March 2011 presidential elections with LEPI. They say they are in favor of its implementation but, according to them, the March 2011 presidential race can be conditioned by the effectiveness. They suspect the Government might intend to do so.

Anyway, Civil Society and the citizens should keep up putting pressure on National Assembly urging the Parliamentarians to see LEPI as a priority and be ready for concessions on both sides in order to give peace a chance.

Benin Politics : AFRICAN RICE

Africa launches project to improve rice production

The Benin Republic-based African Rice Centre (WARDA) has launched a project aimed at improving rice production in sub-Saharan Africa.

Source: Pana

The project, initiated in collaboration with Japan, will strengthen WARDA's plan to boost rice production by 2010 and beyond through improved access by farmers to quality seeds in 20 sub-Saharan African countries, in a bid to reduce rice imports and avoid costly food aid operations.

The project, launched on Monday, plans to produce in each country certified and registered seeds of the improved variety, including NERICA, while establishing sustained links between the public and private sectors.

WARDA said rice was especially targeted given that, together with wheat, it is one of the main crops for which demand is much higher than supply at the local level.

Sub-Saharan rice imports in 2006 were estimated at about 9 millions tons worth US$2 billion.

At current prices, imports will cost over US$5 billion.

World rice stocks have been lower than ever since 1983/1984, and African countries can no longer rely on the Asian market to meet the needs of their growing population, the centre said.

Benin Politics :181st SESSION OF UNESCO

President Boni Yayi urges for more solidarity

President Boni Yayi makes an appeal to UNESCO’s Executive Board for education in developing countries. Thomas Boni Yayi, President of the Republic of Benin, asked on April 21, 2009 that the International Community “not risk jeopardizing the future of education in the less privileged countries due to the crisis.” The President of Benin was addressing the 181st session of UNESCO’s Executive Board, meeting in Paris until 30 April.

Source: UNESCO’s Bureau of Public Information

Greeting President Boni Yayi, the Chairman of the Executive Board, Ambassador of Benin Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yaï, hailed him as someone “who personifies Africa on the move, dreaming Africa, hoping Africa, changing Africa, winning Africa.”

For his part, Koïchiro Matsuura, the Director-General of UNESCO, welcomed “this message of determination and mobilization” presented to the international community, declaring that “this vibrant plea on behalf of education, health and the fight against poverty in Africa is a commitment that remains our own.” Citing his open letter to G20 members, Mr. Matsuura added, “If we want the countries most affected by the crisis to reconnect with growth and sustainable development, we must today invest in social sectors, notably education.”

In his speech to the Executive Board, Dr Boni Yayi stressed the impact of the current crisis. “Despite having protected its banking and financial system by prudent and virtuous regulation, Africa is already one of the main victims economically and socially.” The President listed the first negative consequences for the continent: “The drop in prices for agricultural raw materials further aggravates the fragility and vulnerability of African economies. It increases our State budgets’ need for funding.”

He underlined the threat represented by the crisis to the large African diaspora in industrialized countries, communities who face becoming “the first victims of job eliminations caused by the drastic decline of the world economy. The result will be a substantial decrease of funds sent home by migrants to African countries, which must also expect a decrease of both direct foreign investment and government aid to development.”
According to President Boni Yayi, the combined effects of these destabilizing factors could “annihilate the economic recovery efforts pledged by African leaders, who furthermore must deal with the energy crisis and the food crisis.” Given this situation, the African community must “deepen economic reforms in order to build in true solidarity the foundations of a stronger and more diversified continental economy, less vulnerable to external upheavals.”

Human wealth is the most valuable, said Dr Boni Yayi, underlining that “Africa must meet, through massive investment, the major challenges of education and training, the acquisition of science and technological innovation.” He mentioned action taken by Benin to this end, notably establishing free access to primary school in 2006-2007. He also called on the partners of the Education for All Fast Track Initiative, as well as the international community, to strengthen their financial support of the program: “The world must not risk jeopardizing the future of education in the less privileged countries due to the crisis, while the investment efforts of African and other governments must be vigorously maintained in order to implement educational policies promoting quality and free access to education for girls and boys.”

President Boni Yayi conluded: “What African governments expect from the international community is an unconditional pledge to support our ideals of justice, solidarity, and peace. But a call for solidarity, notably during a crisis, makes sense only when it is coupled with a call for vigilance and responsibility. That is why African states must clean up their public finances and the macroeconomic context, fight resolutely against all forms of corruption, and conduct the required structural and institutional reforms, based on our traditional values of solidarity and sharing, and taking into account the demands of globalization.”


«Rachidi Gbadamassi: Okay and, but what next? »

As one of the most prominent opposition members, MP Rachidi Gbadamassi and his defection from G13 Alliance, made public by himself at a press conference on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 in Parakou, have still been dominating the local news, the well-known columnist, historian and journalism Jérôme Carlos in his chronicle on Friday, April 24, 2009 made analysis on the event. Here is what he had to say:

Source: Jérôme Carlos' chronicle on April 24, 2009
Translated by Alfred Cossi Chodaton

«It should not be handled thoughtlessly the Rachidi Gbadamassi case. While we should be quick to acknowledge that, apart from the stature of the man who is a heavyweight category, literally and figuratively, his case is nothing extraordinary. This is not the first time the national political realm has recorded cases of defection. A tradition, over the years, has been established. Image rather frequent and familiar of people who turn the other way round, burn surprising with aplomb what they have worked hard so far to defend and worship. What is ordinary no longer surprises, no longer shocks. This behavior in politics, at least, deviant with regard to morality and ethics, we tolerate it, we encourage it by our indifference, our silence or our complacency. Why to make all this fuss about Rachidi Gbadamassi's transfer to the green pastures of the Emergence? Where were we and what did we have to say while others lined up, queuing on the same path?
Considering this, it is not quite fair to blame Rachidi Gbadamassi for things on which we had to close our eyes, things about which we had kept quiet, things in which we had to play our tacit complicity if not our kind collaboration.

And then, even though Rachidi Gbadamassi here is the main play actor of this bad movie, the star who made headlines in all newspapers, he could not have taken a camera to go and shoot himself all alone, in a role that he would have given to himself alone, in a scenario that he would have written all of his hand, alone. Rachidi Gbadamassi is a pawn in a game, in relation to other pieces. So let us not push our hypocrisy not see beyond Rachidi Gbadamassi. Guilty, he would not be more than the others would. Forgivable, it would not be less than others would. All sides involved in this game are guilty, according to the universal principle that “birds of a feather flock together.”

Even if we lack formal proof, we can assume it is all about bountiful cash, in this dark transaction. The figures in this regard are to give the vertigo. They certainly have given headaches to all our technical and financial partners, surprised that the poor, they help spend as much in the casino of political games rather than in development.

In any case, it would not be the first time, in Benin, money has been solicited and pumped as a super fuel to start the engine of politics. It would not be the first time that money has been called to irrigate the avid land of politics and serve as fertilizer to our entire political prowess. Since the advent of the democratic era in 1991 until now, the politics in our country has been the history of almost two decades of money given out to bribe the consciences, to swindle votes, to distort the electoral results. Whoever can deny this, may throw us the first stone.

Nevertheless, when we become aware of these deviations, which are tarnishing outrageously politics in our country, we will have to change very quickly. Because we should urgently be concerned about the example that our great actors give of themselves to our compatriots, the image that they show about themselves and that is retained in the people's consciousness; about the legacy that the seniors pass to the juniors.

If we cannot envision ourselves in such a perspective, we never will be able to form a nation that finds on the path of its historical evolution landmarks that build, references that build. If there are no ideals that help us surpass ourselves, or values that lift us up above our individual and selfish circumstances, we will never be a people. We will remain a population, otherwise a mass of individuals without identity, therefore without vision or common destination.

And then, is it not time to put money back to its right place, the one of horse ridden by the knight who can give it orders, who knows how to direct it, orient it , bend it to his will. Because at the pace things are going, we are sacrificing everything to money in a desert of values. Prostitution is pushed to its extreme limit. With men who forge a destiny of goods or men who are assigned a market value after they are listed on the Stock Exchange of all denials and all betrayals.

Finally, we must deepen the historical consciousness of our present actors. They cannot and should not look less like the architects of the future. With the need to seize all the force of the truth, which the idea of Frantz Fanon holds: “Each generation must, in relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.”»

Friday, April 24, 2009


MP Gbadamassi to defect from G13 Alliance

G13 Alliance MP, Rachidi Gbadamassi who is known to be a strong adversary to President Boni Yayi, has announced his resignation in a press conference on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 in Parakou.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

All the local media had aired the news, which was welcomed as political seism on Tuesday. In his statement released at a press conference held to explain to the public the reasons behind his resignation, he declared he had not belonged any more to G13 that he had left because of disagreement over mainly the blockade of the National Assembly.

Gbadamassi's reasons for his defection

According to him, the current political situation in Benin marked by a parliamentary crisis has been all the times a source of disagreement between his allies and him, inside G13 Alliance. It is this situation, which might have triggered his departure from the Alliance.

The day after the announcement of his defection from G13, Rachidi Gbadamassi interviewed by phone on a local radio, Océan FM, confirmed his resignation but pointed out that he had not joined the ruling FCBE. «I am not a FCBE member…but I do not hold any more, the same political views as G13. Since G13 aims at hindering the normal functioning of the State institutions, the functioning of the State as well as preventing the Head of State from implementing his agenda in favor of the populations, I will not be part of it. » he said. « I will not be accountable for the political instability, which might result from this situation. I am in favor a constructive opposition but not a destructive one. That is the problem. However, I do not agree either with the ruling FCBE over its ideals »

Allegations of bribes

Another G13 member, Modeste Kérékou, son of the former Head of State, Mathieu Kérékou, in the local daily newspaper, Le Matinal, alleged that MP Rachidi Gbadamassi was bribed. «We have heard the camp of the Head of State, the ruling FCBE through the businessman El Hadj Daouda Lawal had promised a sum of two (02) billion FCFA to MP Rachidi Gbadamassi for defecting from G13 and joining the ruling FCBE. This was no surprise because this is a political Alliance, which makes poaching, using money. The truth is that we have been investigating this information for some time because after the great prayer, the businessman, El Hadj Daouda Lawal had staged for the Head of State at Zongo central mosque, it was said there should be a big surprise in our ranks. Thus, we find now that the poaching by money of our friend, MP Rachidi Gbadamassi is the surprise that was announced. Meanwhile, very curiously, we heard yesterday that the two personalities, the businessman in question and the MP Rachidi Gbadamassi had boarded an Air France flight bound for Paris and are both likely on their way to the United States, but after a stop in France. Some of our sources indicate they intend to meet the Head of the State himself to continue discussions over their deal and terms of transaction. This is a situation of great concern to the other G13 MPs...»

G13 Alliance in Benin politics since March 2007

G13 Alliance is made up of seven (07) small political parties, which have thirteen (13) of their members elected MPs in the National Assembly. The MP Salifou Saley, UPR (Union Pour la Relève) Chairman, is the G13 leader.

G13 Alliance was once part of the presidential majority until its members defected and joined opposition camp. Since then, G13 has been involved in opposition activities aiming at ousting the President Boni Yayi in the next presidential elections scheduled to take place in March 2011. On Wednesday, March 12, 2008, G13 made a joined declaration with G4 Alliance made up of RB, PRD, PSD, and MADEP, voicing their disapproval over the way public affairs have been handled since Boni Yayi came in office. G13 also took part actively in the Seminar of Common Political Return held in Abomey and Bohicon from 28 to 29 November 2008 marking a turning point in Benin politics and the formation the opposition coalition of G4, G13, and Force Clé.

Hence, MP, Rachidi Gbadamassi, as an active member of this G13 Alliance has never missed an occasion to utter vehemently his opposition to Boni Yayi and his Government.

Gbadamassi's difficult ascension

Before being elected MP, Rachidi Gbadamassi had been Parakou Mayor and an influential local businessman. He started his ascension under the former President Mathieu Kérékou and was elected Parakou Mayor as a UBF (Union pour le Bénin du Futur) member, a coalition that was set up to back Kérékou's Government.

However, shortly after his election as Parakou Mayor, Rachidi Gbadamassi came under severe criticisms over his alleged involvement in the Judge Séverin Coovi assassination on Sunday, November 06, 2005. In this case, He had even been subjected to a lawsuit and detained before being released because of lack of evidence. After five (05) months and five (05) days of preventive detention in Natitingou civil prison, Rachidi Gbadamassi was provisionally released on Friday, April 21, 2006. In the same vein, Parakou Municipal Council, dominated by the presidential camp, accusing him of mismanagement and wrongdoings, unseated him. An unsuccessful legal action was requested by his adversaries to invalidate his election as MP after March 2007, since he was still under prosecution.

Consequences of his defection

Gbadamassi's resignation from G13 Alliance, if confirmed would be the latest of a series of political defection in the National Assembly from one camp to another as, both the opposition coalition and the presidential coalition have been striving to get the majority in order to influence the vote of the draft law over LEPI. LEPI (in French, Liste Electorale Permanente Informatisée) is the Project of Voters Registry Computerization. LEPI has been very sensitive topic as the National Assembly is due to legislate in order to provide the legal framework for this computerization project to be implemented, therefore, it has been come an urgent priority for each camp to dictate the outcome of the parliamentary examination over the LEPI draft law. If Rachidi Gbadamassi joins the presidential camp, the governing coalition will get a narrow majority of 42 MPs against 41, which may be enough to insure an easy control of the National Assembly to Boni Yayi.

Rise of defections in Benin politics

For a while, an increasing number of defections have been recorded in the National Assembly. Before Gbadamassi, it was Tokou Chabi Daré a parliamentarian of the ruling FCBE (Cowries Forces for an Emerging Benin, in French, Forces Cauris pour un Bénin Emergent), who defected and joined G13 Alliance.

Rachidi Gbadamassi was seen at the time as the major player behind this defection since he was the one to hand over Tokou Chabi Daré's resignation letter from FCBE. Some local media have even alleged that Tokou Chabi Daré had been bribed into joining the opposition with thirty (30) million FCFA.

According to analysts, there are many more defections to come since MPs such as Quenum Epiphane and Justine Chodaton, though still formally members of the Renaissance du Bénin, are known to be openly opposed to the party line. For a while, both MPs have been reported to vote in the Chamber regardless of the issue, in accordance with the ruling FCBE stand.

This is how Sulpice Gbaguidi, the Columnist of the daily Newspaper, Fraternité, comments on Thursday, April 23, 2009, on this rise of defections: « The political jungle is in motion and all species are struggling to survive. Poaching has come to the center stage of politics and has been patronizing transhumance. The movement could intensify in the coming months. The uncertainty, caused by a presidential election whose outcomes remain unknown, is a threat to the different alliances and other gatherings. Before the unpredictable 2011 race, politics will already have unveiled its secrets and one will finally know who will remain with Boni Yayi, who will not leave the opposition coalition of G4, G13 and Force Clé and those who will wage the campaign as felons of politics»

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Benin Politics : WAEMU - BENIN ECONOMY

« This global financial crisis has not affected us so severely »

In an interview with Les Afriques, issued on April 18, 2009, Benin Economy and Finance Minister, Soulé Mana Lawani, predicts though that the fall in cotton prices will affect his country.

Interview by Mamadou Lamine Diatta, Dakar
Internet Source:

Translated by Alfred Cossi Chodaton

You have just participated in the 13th West Africa Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) Heads of State summit. How does Benin appreciate the integration process?

You know, WAEMU is a union where integration is real and this union must lead us to a better future. Of course, this organization merging eight West African countries including Benin has just been fifteen year old and its achievements will be assessed. However, meanwhile, one can say that we have gone through the food crisis, the energy crisis and global financial crisis without serious damages thanks to the notion of economic solidarity, which is a key word in our Community.
How does the economic situation of your country, Benin look like?

At macroeconomic level, we have recorded, for last year, a rise of growth rate. It is about 6.1%. Benin also has a budget of 1238 billion CFA F, otherwise, 1.890 billion Euros, a moderated inflation rate. Moreover, our State finances are doing very well.

How is Benin coping with the global financial crisis?

This global financial crisis has not affected us so severely. You know Benin is not so connected the International financial system. We have therefore been through without much troubles, this does not mean we are not going to be affected. We are apprehensive about problems concerning crops such as cotton, our main export product. It is obvious that the global demand is going to drop regarding this product. Hence, this will inevitably impact considerably the prices at a global level and therefore the quantity of cotton sold annually by Benin.

How does your country intends reduce the effects of the crisis on the populations?

Foremost, we have prepared accordingly for diversification our agricultural production so as not to rely solely upon cotton crop. In this perspective, the food crops such as rice, maize, and mainly tubers are to be promoted.

What is the priority of Benin economy presently?

The superiority, I would say, is to ensure the energy supply and the diversification of our agricultural production in order to have an industrial tissue large enough.

What are the economic perspectives for West African Sub-Region?

Generally, the sub-regional economy is doing well. This has been pointed out during WAEMU Heads of State and Government summit, which took place in Ouagadougou. WAEMU countries recorded growth rate of 3.9% against 3.6% the year before. This means that we have somehow endured the shock. This means that the eight countries of the Community have done better in copping with crisis than many other parts of the World.

Benin Politics : BENIN ECONOMY

Benin 's GDP growth likely to drop in 2009

The growth rate of Benin's Gross Domestic Product is likely to drop between 4.4% and 3.8% in 2009 while initial forecasts suggesting 6.1 %, according to official sources.

Source: PANA

The drop is the result of the impact of the international economic crisis.

According to financial experts, the international financial crisis will have adverse effects on the country's economy for four reasons -- reduction in public development aid, drop in exports (highlighted by the drop in customs revenues in February), drop in money transferred from abroad and drop in foreign direct investments (FDI).

Benin's economic growth peaked at 5% in 2008 from the 2007 figure of 4.6% and the government forecast last January a 6.1% growth for 2009.

The experts said the 2008 macroeconomic results were good.

According to a recent IMF report, published at the beginning of this month, «the Beninese economic activity kept on improving in 2008 despite adverse effects of the explosion in foodstuffs and energy products prices and of the international financial crisis. »

The actual GDP growth reached 5% (highest level since 2001) thanks to the good agricultural production, building and civil engineering works, and trade.

Inflation dwindled in the last four months of 2008 to reach an annual average of 8% after being at its peak in August 2008 following decisions by public authorities to maintain high prices for primary foodstuffs and international energy products.

Public Finances were consolidated thanks to an appreciable increase in receipts and a more rigorous management of public expenditures in the second half of 2008.

The deficit in current transactions, including donations, dropped to reach 8.3% of the GDP while it peaked at 9.9% the previous year, the financial institution said.


Benin National Assembly is back on track

On Friday, April 17, 2009, in Porto-Novo, at National Assembly, the first ordinary session of the year started amidst an atmosphere of suspicion and defiance.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

National Assembly has resumed activities. The parliamentary Speaker in his opening address regretted the deterioration of the National Assembly’s image in the public and emphasized the need for restrain and dialogue between the both camps

Opposition MPs boycotted the opening ceremony of this first ordinary session of the year, which was scheduled to take place on Tuesday, April 14, 2009. Only twenty-two (29) MPs turned out against eighty-tree (83) MPs who constitute the National Assembly.

Opposition MPs blame the deteriorating climate on the presidential camp mainly the Speaker of the National Assembly. They alleged that the Speaker has been putting the National Assembly’s independence in jeopardy by allowing the interference of the Presidency and the Constitutional Court.

Many had been wondering whether the National Assembly would resume work after successive postponements of its scheduled meetings. The December 11, 1990 Constitution provides in its article 85 « whenever, at the opening of a session, a quorum of half plus one of members of the National Assembly is not reached, the meeting must be postponed to the third day after. Discussions are valid, whatever the quorum may be»

Therefore even if the opposition MPs did not turn out, the National Assembly would still go on to work and the presidential camp would take advantage of the situation caused by the missing opposition MPs to dictate its wishes regarding the sensitive issues which are pending on this session’s agenda.

On the agenda on this session, there are over 60 issues enrolled. Among these issues, the draft law on the Project of Voters Registry Computerization (in French Liste Electorale Permanente Informatisée: LEPI) that is a high sensitive one. It is mainly LEPI, which is the cause of the tension between both camps as the opposition and the ruling FCBE have been striving to have the majority to influence the outcome of its examination.

National Assembly Speaker also talked about the need for LEPI to be treated as a priority. Still on LEPI, the ruling FCBE issued of statement supporting Civil Society which staged a demonstration over LEPI in front of the Parliament in Porto-Novo on Tuesday, April 14, 2009, to raise public awareness and to put pressure on the MPs. In its statement, the ruling FCBE also warned the opposition against any attempt to block or delay the vote of LEPI.

However, Civil Society leaders have expressed suspicion and doubt about National Assembly’s willingness, mainly about the Speaker’s willingness to work for LEPI implementation since he has failed to meet them during their demonstration.

Lately, it has been reported that the G13 MP, Rachidi Gbadamassi defects and joins the presidential camp. According to different media sources, he would regret the blockade of the National Assembly staged by opposition coalition, during a press conference held in Parakou. He is said to have legalized a resignation letter from G13 alliance at Parakou Mayor’s office. If this is confirmed, it will be a major blow to opposition, which has been seeking a majority to dominate the Parliament. In addition, the situation will allow the presidential to dictate its wishing in the vote of the law over LEPI.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Civil Society to rescue Benin Democracy

As neither the Government nor the opposition seem fully committed to the implementation of the Voters’ Registry Computerization Project, LEPI, the Civil Society staged a demonstration in front of the Parliament in Porto-Novo on Tuesday, April 14, 2009, to raise public awareness and to put pressure on the MPs.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

Knowing most of the previous elections held in Benin have all the times been marked by bitter and divisive post electoral disputes, Civil Society leaders have been growing increasingly anxious about the prospect of the next presidential elections. The disputes, which erupted after the March 2008 local and communal elections, are still pending in the Supreme Court of Justice for in many areas throughout the country the elected municipal councils are yet to be installed.

Moreover, since the country is almost two (02) years ahead of the next presidential elections scheduled to take place in March 2011, the political climate has gradually been getting acrimonious and some sporadic acts of violence have even been recorded.

All the players of the political scene, the Government and the opposition, agree upon the need to computerize the Beninese electoral system, which is still manual and do not prevent the registration of children under eighteen and foreigners. However, so far they have not done anything for the implementation of this computerization. They both expressed their willingness to act for LEPI to be implemented but have not made any serious move regarding the legal framework, which needs to be put in place for the project of voters’ registry computerization to become effective.

Despite the deterioration of the atmosphere and the obvious need for the country to prevent chaos by implementing LEPI which is the only way a free and fair election can be insured, both the presidential camp and the opposition coalition made up of G4, G13 and Force Clé have been dragging their feet.

Each camp accuses the other of lacking the willingness to make LEPI effective. While the opposition alleged that the National Assembly Speaker does not want to schedule the examination of the draft law over LEPI because the presidential camp lost the majority in the Parliament, the ruling FCBE points out it is the opposition, which now has a majority, is to be blame for this deadlock.

The Civil Society, taking notice of this situation, has decided to stage a demonstration aiming at urging the parliamentarians to go ahead with the vote of the draft law over the implementation of LEPI and seeing it as a priority.

On the banners, one could read powerful messages urging the National Assembly not to procrastinate. For the Civil Society leaders tomorrow’s peace must start to be preserved today. They unanimously voiced their concern over the neglect, which the LEPI is subjected to. Due to be examined during the last extraordinary session of the National Assembly, the draft law over the project of voters registry computerization has been postponed and enrolled on the agenda of the first ordinary session which did not take place because of lack of quorum.

Furthermore, issue regarding LEPI has been recorded as the 49th subject of this session. Therefore, the Civil Society demands the project of voters’ registry computerization be seen as a priority. « Stop the dilatory maneuver, vote LEPI, » one could read on some banners.

Nevertheless, despite its pacific demonstration, Civil Society still feels as if it has not made any real impact on the attitude or the behavior of National Assembly. Civil Society leaders have been disappointed by the unavailability of the Speaker who did not turn out to get their motion of protest, nor was represented by any other PM. The demonstrators had waited for four (04) hours without meeting the National Assembly Speaker, Marthurin Nago.

Boni Yayi, since he came in office, has committed himself to making effective the computerization of the electoral system. In the process, he asked the European Commission and the United Nations Development Program to perform an assessment on the feasibleness of the computerization of the voters’ registry before the 2011 presidential elections.

The report on the assessment made by the UE and the UNDP was handed over to the Government on Wednesday, December 11, 2008. In the report, it is suggested that if the computerized voters’ registry had been to be available for the 2011 presidential race, its carrying out would have started on December 01, 2008.

During the best wishes ceremony for the 2009 New Year celebration at the Palais du Marina the President Boni Yayi while addressing the heads of the State Institutions and the members of the Civil Society, restated his commitment to implement the project. The new deadline that has been set for its start is March 2009.

Since then, two (02) proposed bills have been introduced to the Speaker of the Parliament on the same law. The first proposal has been made by the MP Karimou Chabi Sika, member of the ruling FCBE and the second, by the MP Epiphane Quenum, member of the RB which belongs to the G4 alliance.


Benin on the verge of a parliamentary crisis

The tension between both camps, the opposition coalition of G4, G13 and Force Clé and the ruling FCBE, caused by the precocious campaign for March 2011 presidential elections, has been worsening and degenerating into a blockade of the National Assembly.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

The opposition and the presidential camp are struggling to dominate the National Assembly and mainly to influence the vote for the implementation of Voters Registry Computerization Project (in French Liste Electorale Permanant Informatisée : LEPI).since the Parliament is due to put in place the legal framework for this project to become effective.

To achieve this aim, all means have been used by each camp to persuade the MPs members of the opponent camp to defect. Therefore while the ruling FCBE seems to be wooing some opposition MPs such as Epiphane Quenum and Justine Chodaton who are both members of Renaissance du Bénin, the G4,G13 and Force Clé coalition has managed to provoke the defection of a MP, Daré Sabi Tokou from the presidential camp.

This last defection has assured a narrow majority to the opposition, which intends to use it to dictate the outcome of the vote of the draft law over LEPI.

However, after this change of majority in the Parliament, the different sessions convened have been postponed because of either the unavailability of the parliamentary secretaries or the opposition boycott. The session convened on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 could not start because of the absence of the second parliamentary secretary, Amissétou Affo Djobo. On Tuesday, April 14, 2009, the opposition MPs boycotted the opening of the first ordinary session, which was due to start
In the media, the analysts suggest since the beginning of the democratic era, the Parliament has never complied with its obligations and duties poorly as the current legislature, which is the fifth one, has been doing.

In an article issued on Thursday, April 16, 2009, in the daily newspaper, Le Matinal, Jean-Christophe Houngbo, commenting on the situation in National Assembly, argued, « In situations of this kind, it is the parliamentary diplomacy which must be activated to soften the opposition’s stand. A similar situation occurred under …Mr. Adrien Houngbedji when he headed the National Assembly in the first legislature. His report was rejected after its controversial opening of a regular session. The remarks in the report were hostile to the regime of President Nicéphore Dieudonné Soglo who had a strong majority in Parliament. However, the time to leave Maison Internationale de la Culture and come to Palais des Gouverneurs in Porto-Novo was enough to settle disputes. All provisions were really taken and the voltage dropped within a few hours. The same incident took place with Bruno Amoussou under the second legislature. Everything comes back in order thanks to a very aggressive diplomacy. Today’s legislature is a particular one. This diplomacy jealously maintained so far, has almost disappeared; confraternity has left the forum in the National Assembly; the MPs exchange insults and punches as kids. One would think that there is really no way to calm down the climate as in the past. In addition, the Speaker Mathurin Nago himself does not want to learn from the records left by his predecessors to get by. »