Thursday, February 26, 2009


Will the strategy of division and bribery work in the end?


Definitely the days, when demonstrations were staged throughout the whole country on almost a daily base by Boni YAYI’s supporters are over. Two years ahead of the 2011 presidential contest, the beninese political landscape is once more changing forever.

Almost three years ago, when the current Head of State took over from his predecessor, after he won the 2006 presidential race by getting 75% of the vote, the political landscape was shacked. For the first time in Benin's history and since the beginning of the democratic era, someone who did not formerly belong to the traditional political scene, someone that was unknown for many few months ago, had become an elected Head of State.

Boni YAYI, therefore, had enjoyed a lot of sympathy and even his contender in the second round of 2006 presidential elections, Mr. Adrien HOUNGBEDJI was hesitant to declare that he and his party, the PRD, intended to assume the opposition role.

How has the presidential camp isolate itself?

The opposition against Boni YAYI actually started within his own camp. His refusal to hand over the management of Dantokpa market to the Cotonou municipality, the unsuccessful attempt from the ruling FCBE to take hold of Cotonou municipality through the March 2008 local elections and the direct verbal assaults of some FCBE members on the Cotonou Mayor, the former Head of State, Nicéphore SOGLO are among others the main reasons that pushed the party Ranaissance du Bénin (RB) into the opposition.

It was not at all a coincidence that the first declaration of the G4 was made public almost at the same time on Wednesday, February 12, 2008. The RB is apparently one of the initiators of the G4 which is made up, apart from the RB, of the PSD, the MADEP and the PRD. The RB, the PSD and the MADEP supported Boni YAYI in the second round of the 2006 presidential race but all of them are right now conducting an increasingly virulent opposition against him.

Division as a strategy

To this situation, Boni YAYI has responded with a strategy aiming at dividing these different parties.

In the RB, the Minister, Ganiou SOGLO has been doing all he can to make the party divided inciting controversial statements from parliamentarians such as Epiphane QUENUM and Justine CHODATON.

In the PRD, Mathias GBEDAN who was few days ago the Vice-Chairman of the party is now a FCBE member. His resignation from the party has allowed him to reach an arrangement with the ruling FCBE which is dominant in the municipal council to secure the renewal of his seat of Sème-Kpodji Mayor.

In the PSD, some parliamentarians have been threatening to resign from the party while, in the MADEP which voiced its willingness not to take part in the Government, two of its members are appointed ministers without the party's approval.

Bribery as a strategy

Issa SALIFOU, a parliamentarian who belongs to the G13 at the UNDP's convention in Bohicon on Saturday, February 21, 2009, made about the Government of Boni YAYI serious accusations alleging that huge amounts of funds have been spent by Ministers to bribe some members of the National Assembly: « I assure you today that at the National Assembly, when there is a bill to be passed by vote, they spend in terms of millions and billions to press people; it's huge…»

Similar accusations of malpractice, corruption and bribery were made few days earlier by the PSD Chairman, Mr. Bruno AMOUSSOU: « Nobody can be proud of a Parliament …where money becomes the engine, not sneakily but uncoveredly rewarding for the stand. The fact that some members of the State Government walk around in the National Assembly's corridors or settle in rooms with bags full of money in search for a MP to take hold of is heartbreaking …» That practice was common under the former regime though they have never been confirmed by an official investigation.

All these accusations have been made against a Government leaded by someone that had raised so much hope. If those accusations were to be confirmed, it would be a serious setback to people who fought Mathieu KEREKOU, expecting Boni YAYI's rise in power could mean change for the better in the way public affairs were handled.

Which legacy has Boni YAYI been leaving behind?

On good governance front, Boni YAYI had promised to restore ethics in Benin politics and help combat corruption. Many came to believe in him and supported him because of this commitment he made but now they are disenchanted as nothing has happened the way they had expected.

Of course, Boni YAYI, at the beginning of his term sacked some of his Ministers but never disclosed the reasons behind the dismissals. A part from these dismissals, nothing has seriously been done to fight corruption.

Instead, according to different allegations, the same malpractice has never disappeared in the handling of public affairs. Even some members of the ruling FCBE who are parliamentarians have come under severe accusations of wrongdoings and embezzlement of public funds. Till now, nothing serious has been done about these cases.

Now there are accusations that some of his Ministers have been involved in bribery in broad daylight in the National Assembly.

Regarding national unity, he had promised to unit the country especially the political forces behind him and mobilize the people for the Nation's development but the facts on the ground now prove he has not yet succeeded, to say the least. Instead, he himself has alienated the supports of all the parties that rallied behind him in the second term of 2006 presidential contest. Today, the political arena and event the whole country are divided than ever before.

In fact, on the national unity front, the nation seems to be weakened today. It is as if the politicians are rewarded for being disloyal to their parties. For example, the Sème-Kpodji's Mayor, Mathias GBEDAN was given the seat because he had resigned from the PRD's chairmanship.

On the decentralization front, he had promised to promote local good governance however the facts are different. Because of his political foxiness, he refused to give up the Dantokpa market. Why? Why did Boni YAYI not want and will he not want to hand over the market's management to the City Council? The handing over of this market's management to the City Council would have been a proof of its commitment to local good governance, to decentralization. It would have also helped the speedy development of Cotonou city.

All these analysis leads to the conclusion that Boni YAYI has not distant himself from his predecessor who used to divide, weaken and oppose the parties by the same strategies of bribery and manipulation.

The promised change is yet to be delivered.

Can he secure a second term in office?

Right now, Boni YAYI and his camp seem very isolated on the political landscape. He is now divorced with the MADEP, the PSD, the RB and the Force Clé. Moreover, Mathieu KEREKOU, who is said to still have a lot of influence and especially have close ties with the G13 and Bio TCHANE, a potential contender for the 2011 presidential race, seems annoyed by the released of Reckya MADOUGOU's book. Some members of the Civil Society also appear less enthusiastic with him. It is the case now with the Professor Roger GBEGNOVI who recently rejected an appointment as special advisor to the Head of State after he himself had said on TV that he would be willing to hold such a position. Even within his own party, FCBE, there are voices expressing their disapproval about his policy.

It is unlikely that if the situation remains as it is right now, Boni YAYI would be able secure a second term in office.

Alfred Cossi CHODATON

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