Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Benin Politics : THE OBSESSION WITH 2011 GOES ON

Azannaï targets RB

The entire Benin political arena has been obsessed with 2011, for a while, but instead of holding public and contradictory discussions over the main challenges facing the country, the opposition coalition G4, G13 and Force Clé as well as the ruling FCBE and its allies have been waging a campaign of accusations and counter-accusations. The main actor of this saga's latest chapter is Candide Azannaï who came out strongly against the RB leaders during a press release at his Party headquarters on Thursday, March 26, 2009.

Following the attack on Renaissance du Bénin's headquarters on Wednesday, March 19, 2009 both camps accuse each other of inciting violence.

Thus in a press conference held at the headquarters of the Party, Rerstaurer L'Espoir which he set up after his dismissal from his former Party, Renaissance du Bénin, Candide Azannaï made accusations against the RB leaders. He alleged that they are the ones behind the assault on the headquarters of their own Party, assault which resulted in one serious injured, the brother-in-low of Nicéphore Soglo. He denounced what he said was «the self-victimization of the Renaissance du Bénin» over the attack against its headquarters. According to him, the attack aims at diverting the attention of the public from the crisis looming in RB ranks.

The deteriorating political climate marked by verbal escalation which has gradually been generating violence worries Candide Azannaï, according to his own statement. The Chairman of Restaurer L'Espoir, attended by his new political friends and close allies to Boni Yayi such as Alexandre Hountondji, Amos Elègbè, Martin Dohou Azonhiho, Maxime Houédjissin and Ali Houdou, said the Party which he heads, through this media release, intended to perform «a national duty by raising public awareness». He finds very strange the exaggeration in the media made by those who, according to him, are responsible for the case of attack against RB headquarters.

The man who once was one of the most influential RB members said that burglary is still part of the schemes which were often used by his former Party in situation of political crisis or when faced with internal crisis. To illustrate his argument, he mentioned « the so-called attack of Rosine Vieyra Soglo's office, the announcement of Nicéphore Soglo's false death and the alleged robbery and theft of documents from him in Paris. » For him, it is a self-victimization aims at inciting people's sympathy.

The speaker also highlighted other issues. Talking about the reelection of Nicéphore Soglo and his son Léhady Soglo respectively as Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Cotonou, he said it was a mistake committed by the presidential camp. For him, after their half-defeat in the 2007 legislative elections, the lieutenants of Boni Yayi should have given them, the final blow. However having not done so, they have allowed the mismanagement of Cotonou city which is the country's first city. He believes that instead of putting peace in jeopardy in the perspective of 2011 by their deeds, the city's administrators should make public the results of their first term. He also accused that the Cotonou estate is targeted and is being sold off cheaply. He said the city council should also inform its citizens on the use of almost twelve (12) billion a year for these resources are supposed to be spent for the development and the cleaning up of Cotonou, which keeps on stinking and being insalubrious.

BR, since November 2008 when the coalition G4, G13 and Force Clé was formally set up, has seemed to be faced with an internal division as some of its influential members such as the MPs Epiphane Quenum, Justine Chodaton and the current Sports and Culture Minister, Ganiou Soglo are not apparently acting in accordance with the Party line. This might probably be what Candide Azannaï has referred to as internal crisis.

This second son of Nicéphore Soglo, Ganiou Soglo who is the Sports and Culture Minister on Golfe Radio Station on Sunday, March 29, 2009 acknowledged that according to him, the attack against RB headquarters was nothing but a montage similar to the rumors previously alleging his father was dead. He blamed the entourage of his father for this attack and even held this entourage accountable for whatever might happen to his father.

This late statement which is much critical about RB is not the first one from Candide Azannaï. Candide Azannaï, on Monday, December 01, 2008 came out strongly against what he called: «a political armed robbery» referring to the joined meeting held from 28 to 29 November, 2008 in Bohicon by the coalition of G4, G13 and Force Clé.

Candide Azannaï was once RB's National Executive Secretary but was sacked from the Party on the eve of March 2006 presidential elections while he seemed to oppose the candidacy of Léhady Soglo. Later, he joined Boni YAYI's camp.

On Monday, March 30, 2009, in a response to the statement made by Azannaï, Olivier Paraïso, National Secretary in charge of decentralized RB organs declared that « for a while, there have been rumors of cabinet reshuffle coming out and Candide Azannaï, nourishing ministerial ambitions, needed to send a signal to the Head of State who seems to have been forgetting him for so long. »

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

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