Friday, March 20, 2009

Benin Politics : G4’S CANDIDATE FOR 2011

Option for a unique candidate


The main opposition parties, the RB, the PSD, the MADEP and the PRD associated with other political coalitions such as G13 and Force Clé in an unprecedented meeting in November 2008 in Abomey and Bohicon voiced their willingness to join their forces, fight and win together the next presidential elections schedule to take place in March 2011.

Yet, so far nothing has been said about who will be the G4’s candidate and now, two years ahead of these elections, as the political landscape has started bracing its for the contest the need for this choice to be made has been getting increasingly urgent.

According to different sources, this choice must be made by April 2009. It is likely that Léhady SOGLO and Adrien HOUNGBEDJI are the two major contenders among whom the choice has to be made as the other G4 leaders Bruno AMOUSSOU, Antoine IDJI and Lazard SEHOUETO do not seem to show any interest till now in standing.

On one hand, Bruno AMOUSSOU who is now seventy (70) can not stand in any forthcoming presidential elections unless the current Constitution which bans anyone older than seventy (70) from standing is amended. On the other hand, the choice for a successor to Bruno AMOUSSOU might prove to be a divisive issue which will weaken further the PSD. Antoine IDJI, on his part, can still stand but his choice as a candidate is not presumable due to his very low performance in the 2006 contest. He got 3.23% of the vote and came fifth after Léhady SOGLO. As for Lazar SEHOUETO, he did less than Antoine IDJI and can not really be chosen as a candidate who is supposed to knock down Boni YAYI.

SOGLO Nicéphore’s son, despite his young age, came fourth in the 2006 presidential contest by getting 8.54% of the vote and has been very active in strengthening the ties between G4 members. Adrien HOUNGBEDJI was the most main Boni YAYI’s contender and got 24.23% of the vote. He is an experienced politician. Therefore, if a choice for a unique candidate were to be made, it should be either Léhady SOGLO or Adrien HOUNGBEDJI.

Anyway, the resolution within the G4 alliance to stand united in 2011 presidential race is strong. The leaders of the alliance are all convinced the fact that they who had bitterly fought each other in the past, come together to struggle and win the 2011 race should be a powerful signal to their followers and to the people who would definitely rally behind them. According to them, it is an unprecedented event in Benin’s history that should help unit the people for the opposition’s triumph. For this purpose, they think that the choice of this unique candidate have to be made by taking into consideration ordinary Benin citizens’ aspirations.

Among other issues, a G4 meeting which is due to take place soon will be reflecting on the modalities for the designation or the appointment of this unique candidate. Should the appointment be made by a panel of main figures through vote or on the basis of consensus? Which are the criterions that have to be considered in this choice?
In fact, these issues will prove to be very difficult to deal with despite the resolution and willingness of member parties not to go for 2011 presidential elections divided. Nevertheless, the G4 leaders are aware the option of individual candidacy, because of the lack of popular enthusiasm, the apathy that it can cause, might definitely lead to an outright victory for Boni YAYI.

Another contentious issue which may be a blockade to the choice of a unique candidate is Bio TCHANE’s potential candidacy. The G13 which is an ally to G4 has been backing and fighting for Bio TCHANE. Moreover, Mathieu KEREKOU is also said to have close ties with Bio TCHANE and seems to be willing to back him. And nobody can ignore the fact that Mathieu KEREKOU still has a lot influence over his former allies such as Bruno AMOUSSOU and Antoine IDJI and may try to use this influence in favor of Bio TCHANE.

As a result and given the increasing lack of cohesion within the ruling coalition, the uncertainty about the outcome of 2011 presidential elections is almost intact and any prediction will truly be hazardous. Nothing has already been set. Two years are long. Many surprises might have been awaiting the country. This makes any reliable analysis difficult and even impossible.

In an article published in the daily new paper ‘Le Matinal’, on Thursday, March 19, 2009, Calixte ADIYETON concluded that « all this causes to draw a picture of political uncertainty regarding the next presidential elections. However, this state of affairs has the advantage of keeping the political game still open to all sorts of negotiations and alliances in the last moment. This perspective can hold enough surprises, because if the opposition forces now agree upon the need for changing the driver in 2011, it is important to ensure that among the passengers of the vehicle, there is one at least that has his driver's license. »

Alfred Cossi CHODATON

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