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. »

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


«L’Afrique est mon combat»

On Saturday, April 04, 2009, the major leaders of G4, Nicéphore Soglo, Adrien Houngbédji, Séfou Fagbohoun and Bruno Amoussou were in Paris. The reason for their presence in Paris is that the former Benin National Assembly Speaker, Bruno Amoussou released his book, whose title is «L’Afrique est mon combat»

Main source: blog dedicated to the book
Translated by Alfred Cossi Chodaton

The French title « L’Afrique est mon combat » might be translated, as «Africa is my fight»

A ceremony attended by distinguished guests

The ceremony took place at Club Press de France, rues Jean Goujon in Paris and was attended by journalists and many Beninese and African figures. One could find among the audience Adrien Houngbédji who is also a former parliamentary Speaker, the former Head of State, Nicéphore Soglo, the MADEP honorary Chairman, Séfou Fagbohoun, and other guests such as Nouréni Tidjani Serpos, Deputy Director General of UNESCO, Africa Department, or Agossou Albert, Ambassador of Benin in France. They all praised the book of Bruno Amoussou.

The ceremony started when Saliou Akadiri, the master of ceremonies, also Pobè Mayor, requested the attention of the hundreds of people who were beginning to lose patience. He greeted and thanked the attendance mainly African personalities who were present.

The former Congolese Prime Minister, current ambassador of Congo in France, Henri Lopès, who happened to be Bruno Amoussou’s classmate received special greetings and thanks. He had the task of presenting the book of his friend Bruno Amoussou, who is a «comrade, politician and author like me, » he said. Proud to have read the manuscript, Henri Lopès emphasized truth and sincerity in this book. The long speech of Henri Lopès pulled the book from its Beninese context to give it a continental scope. The audience was all captivated and seduced by the rhetoric of Henri Lopès, who is also a writer. The exercise of his friend Bruno Amoussou, retracing his route and political commitment, reminded Henri Lopès, « has something fictional »

The atmosphere was friendly. The author’s address added to this. Neatly dressed in a traditional cloth, a white booboo, Bruno Amoussou was not only the well-known politician of Benin. He brilliantly illustrated his book and the audience was impressed.

Bruno Amoussou tells Benin history

The book is made up of two hundred pages, which narrate the history of the former French colony Dahomey and one of Africa until 1972, the year of the last military coup in Dahomey. Dahomey and Africa are the « stem characters » which Bruno Amoussou talks about in his book.

What mainly prompted Bruno Amoussou to write, «L’Afrique est mon combat» is a combination of family circumstances. May 2006, Bruno Amoussou had a stop in Montreal for his children, Gilles and Olivier, students in Canada. Olivier and Gilles straightforwardly asked the right question to their Dad who always has an overloaded timetable. «Dad, as we are lucky enough today to have you with us, tell us a bit and more about who you are, and what you did. » It was the click. Bruno Amoussou complied, narrated his story and finally decided to write about himself, about what he has seen, done and suffered.

The structure of the book is modeled on the process of memory. The first chapters are related to a family investigation: his father, Ange Marie Balovi Amoussou, catechist valiant peasant and his mother Philomène Fangnon trader and especially pearls seller, his experiences at school and university, his years of militancy, decolonization, his first years in the political arena.

Bruno Amoussou talks about all his comings and goings, his trips. He gives details about his experiences and his commitments. It is two hundred (200) pages of memories, anecdotes and revelations. He provides us with a tasty and bitter series of political facts, which are a new confirmation that the 60’s has really been hectic in Dahomey. Regarding these episodes, the historical background is well organized and the truth comes out as bubbles of oxygen. The pleasure of reading is high and each reader will make up his or her mind about the role of these years’ majors actors: Christophe Soglo, Hubert Maga, Sourou Apithy Migan, Justin Ahomadégbé, Emile Derlin Zinsou, Biokou Solomon, Edmond Dossou-Yovo, Alphonse Alley, Maurice Kouandété, Philippe Aho, Téophile Paoletti, Jean Videhouenou, Nicéphore Soglo, Moïse Mensah, Albert Tevoédjrè, Expédit Viho, Adrien Degbey, Marius Akuesson and the author himself, Bruno Amoussou.

However, Bruno Amoussou falls short of talking about the years marked by the military regime of Mathieu Kérékou and Benin history beginning from the National Conference of Active Forces in 1990, which is the starting point of Beninese democratic era. The author neither mentions his influential role under the two terms of Mathieu Kérékou from 1996 to 2006.

Bruno Amoussou’s biography

Born in 1939, engineer in agronomy, Bruno Amoussou was the son of a peasant. Brilliant student, he was quickly noticed and continued his studies in Porto Novo, capital of Dahomey, then at the National Institute of Agronomy in the 1960’s, decade of decolonization in Black Africa.

This period marked his entry into politics. Modest first, he became the Association of Dahomey Students’ President in 1962. Therefore, he met African figures such as Kwame N’Krumah, the Algerian leader Ahmed Ben Bella, on different occasions, which pushed him gradually towards the front of the stage.

Current leader of Benin Social Democratic Party (PSD), Bruno Amoussou was Benin National Assembly Speaker from 1995 to 1999, then Planning and Development State Minister in Mathieu Kérékou’s government until 2005. Candidate in the last three presidential elections, he is an influential player on the political scene in Benin and Africa.

After the March 2006 presidential elections which he lost, Bruno Amoussou and his Party has now belonged since March 2008 to the opposition coalition G4 that intends to oust Boni Yayi in 2011.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Controversial assessment of a three-year rule

April 06, 2009 has marked the third anniversary of Boni Yayi's inauguration as the third Benin Head of State since the advent of democratic era in 1990 and the celebration was an occasion for the presidential camp to assess its three-year rule.

The MPs of the ruling FCBE and the whole Government were convened to a conference at Palais du Congrès in Cotonou on Sunday, April 05, 2009 where mainly the Prospective and Public Action Minister, Pascal Iréné Koukpaki made a briefing over the state of Benin economy, the achievements and its future prospective.

In the report that Mr. Koukpaki read to the audience, he emphasized the Government's efforts on services, logistics, trade and transports, cotton textile, food agriculture, infrastructure, culture, tourism and arts. Each of these areas has benefited from the Government's efforts. Over seventy (70) billion of FCFA has been invested in road construction with the results as building of major infrastructures including the road lines Godomey-Calavi, Kétou-Ilara and crossings. Three (03) billion and one (01) billion FCFA, respectively, were allocated to arts and Aid Fund to culture. On social front, over five (05) billion FCFA has funded micro-loans and employment.

Efforts were also made in the area of security, diplomacy, education. In terms of total revenue within three (03) years, over two hundred (200) billion FCFA of growth were recorded, of which one third is devoted to salary costs. Nevertheless, this situation should be moderate this year because the estimated revenue will be down by fifteen percent (15%). Despite this, the potential for development of the country remains preserved and the Head of State holds the reins, reassured Pascal Iréné Koupaki.

However, not everybody agrees on that positive assessment of Boni Yayi's three-year rule. The opposition coalition made up of G4, G13, and Force Clé and critics in the media do not hold the same view as the ruling camp about the first three years of Boni Yayi's term in office.

According to the opposition, all the decisions, which the Government carries out, are implemented precipitously without due preparation, planning, and careful oversight of the executed actions. It is the same criticism, which is voiced over all the main issues regarding the administration of public affairs. Whether it is about education, healthcare, security, micro finance, macro economy, Government relations with the other intuitions mainly with the National Assembly and with the opposition, the different initiatives are taken in haste. This does finally more damage than good.

In a letter, whose title is «The major lies of Boni Yayi and his government» issued by Benin Communist Party on April 02, 2009, the leader of this political party, which is not represented in the Parliament, accused Boni Yayi's Government of manipulating and misleading the people.

For the Communist Party of Benin, «the measure of abolition of school fees was made before the arrival of Boni Yayi. It all started at the beginning of 1993-1994 by the removal, on foreign pressure, of school fees for girls in rural areas. The measure was subsequently extended to boys, always in rural areas and then from 2000-2001 to all school-aged children, regardless of gender and area of residence. Any agitation, on the part of, Boni Yayi and his political family in this matter is an awkward lie and a notorious trickery»

The letter also regrets the Government policy about education program, healthcare system, loans to finance the construction of major infrastructures, the management of State finances, the management of revenues from customs escort, the management of State owned public enterprises, traditional rule and concludes by arguing that the promised change is yet to be delivered.

In his column issued on April 08, 2009, the well-known columnist, journalist, and historian, Jérôme CARLOS questioned the meaning of this promised change: « How worthy is free schooling if it serves to promote problematic citizens? What will the fate of the most efficient infrastructures be if there is nobody to care for them as responsible citizen? A balance sheet is quantitative. The change assessment is qualitative. That is all the difference. » To him, «…change is less the sum of the accumulative quantity of what one has achieved than the efforts of one another to change ourselves and make ourselves able to change our country. »

Alfred Cossi Chodaton


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Missing second parliamentary secretary blocks

The session convened yesterday to discuss draft law establishing Government Ombudsman and draft amendments to the articles 11, 16, 18 and 35 of the Organic Act on the High Authority of Audiovisual and Communication (HAAC) could not start. The official reason put forward by the Speaker of National Assembly is the absence of the second parliamentary secretary, Amissétou Affo Djobo. For the opposition PMs, it is nothing but a political machination.

Political maneuvers have certainly triumphed over the need for the plenary to be held last Tuesday at Palais des Gouverneurs in Porto-Novo. The noticeable absence of the second parliamentary secretary, Amissétou Affo Djobo is the cause of this blockade. The Speaker of National Assembly had once again to announce a further postponement of the second session that has enrolled in its agenda, inter alia, the draft law establishing the Ombudsman, and the draft law amending articles 11, 16, 18, and 35 of the Organic Act on the HAAC. The importance of these laws explains what is at stake in this examination. The latest upheavals in parliament came to add to the climate of suspicion between both camps. Opposition PMs, with their newly gained majority are eager to start the scheduled examination on this legislation to bring forth their wishes. While the presidential camp, more prudent, seems to be dragging its feet in order to have time to see clearly in the new situation created by the last recorded defection in their camp. This is how the opposition explains the successive adjournments of this meeting, which have recently been occurring in the Parliament.

Indeed, according to the provisions of the Parliament Regulatory Statute, no meeting can be held without the presence of at least a parliamentary secretary. However, the first parliamentary secretary, Joachim Dahissiho was known to be unwell for some time. He even put forward a letter to Parliament to inform the plenary of his absence from the chamber. His correspondence was read to the plenary a few days ago. Moreover, he would have even provided to the Speaker a certificate proving his state of health. It was therefore logical that the second secretary makes herself available for the session not to be blocked. Nevertheless, she had not turned out knowing that the first secretary is absent. It is only around 4 p.m. that the Speaker had made its entry into the chamber to announce the meeting should not be held because the second parliamentary secretary was sick. «For unavailability of the second secretary, the plenary was postponed to Thursday, » said the Speaker Nago to the PMs. As it should be expected, this drew strong reactions. According to the opposition, the second parliamentary secretary voluntarily did not turn out since the day before she was at Palais des Congrès to celebrate the Government's third anniversary. Even assuming that she is actually sick, they wonder when the Speaker was aware of this to announce it to the MPs at 4 p.m., while he himself has been present since 10 a.m. The conclusion was quick to be drawn. «The Speaker is haunted by the loss of the majority, » said an opposition PM who explains that «the blurred game of the presidential camp is not to examine the draft on HAAC to allow the appointment of its members on the basis of the former law granting three (03) seats to the Head of State and three (03) to the Executive Board of the Parliament and three (03) to media professionals. » Opposition MPs also see in this postponement, the unwillingness of the Speaker Nago to read the letter of resignation of a MP who defected from FCBE thus getting the presidential camp into trouble in the Parliament. It is said the next Thursday; another agenda is to be scheduled. It would be on the protection of personal data.

Fortuné AGUEH
Translated by Alfred Cossi Chodaton

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


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Decision welcome with mitigation

Due to be effective on April 01, 2009 in forty-three (43) hospitals in the rural area, the measure of free caesarean had its first day of implementation in Benin amidst a situation of shortage of basic material supplies and qualified personnel, on the ground.

Boni Yayi made this promise during the 2006 presidential and since in office, has been finding out a way to implement the measure. After three (03) years of rule and two (02) years ahead of the next presidential elections schedule to take place in March 2011, he has finally made it although there are serious reservations about the way the decision is being implemented.

Taken during a Cabinet Meeting in March 2008 and reactivated again a year later on the sidelines of the celebration of International Women's Day in March 2009, the measure of free cesarean delivery was effective on April 01, 2009 but only in hospitals which are eligible to receive deliveries that can not be made naturally. In most of these eligible hospitals, which are located in rural areas, the implementation of the measure is effective but causes a lot of rush and a sharp increase in the average number of women who undergo cesarean section before giving birth.

At Suru-Léré Hospital, a suburb hospital, the unique medical center eligible in Cotonou city, at 6 p.m. four (04) cases of women who gave birth by caesarean section have already been recorded while two others emergency cases have been waiting to undergo surgery. Questioned, the Head of this suburb hospital stated that the daily average number of women who undergo cesarean section to give birth is three (03).

The measure is unanimously welcome but most of the professionals in the healthcare sector show a mitigated reaction. Most of them expressed dissatisfaction about the way the measure has been implemented in the different medical centers. They complain that the Government has not considered their demands before making this decision.

On the eve of the day when the decision was due to be implemented, the healthcare Union in a communiqué, commends what it calls «…the noble and praiseworthy Government’s initiative which is an important step towards maternal and neonatal mortality reduction…. » However, it deplores that the implementation of such an important decision, in a context marked by the lack of medical equipments and related supplies as well as by the shortage of quailed professionals, raises doubt about its success. Moreover, there are many demands of wage increase which remain until now unanswered.

Benin healthcare system has regularly been hit by strikes because of poor work conditions in the sector. The Government has promised to do all it could to improve work conditions in healthcare sector but the workers think that this improvement was a prerequisite to the success of this decision regarding free cesarean.

In addition to this lack of human, financial, and material resources, health professionals emphasized the need for a clearly outlined policy in an official manual of instructions, which can serve as guideline in the implementation of this decision as well as an executive ministerial order defining the framework in which the decision has to be implemented. According to them, the actors involved in the implementation of the decision are not sensitized enough since there is no clarification about the beneficiaries and about the care of the child born under cesarean section.

Critics in the media also blame the Government for implementing such a decision without planning, method, proper sensitization of the public, and the prerequisites, which it has to meet foremost. In fact, the measure has triggered a lot of confusion in public since many are not aware that the measure does not involve all the medical centers.

Furthermore, the Government only subsidizes part of cesarean related charges. The Government pays one hundred thousands (100.000) f CFA for each cesarean section leaving the remaining charges to the patient. One columnist, Jérôme CARLOS who is also known as a historian, raises doubt about the credibility of the Government by asking, « is there gratuity or can one talk about gratuity if the initiative of the Government, yet praiseworthy, is nothing but the payment of a part of the cesarean cost? In fact, what is gratuity? The dictionary answers: characteristics of something that is given without payment or that one enjoys without payment as counterpart»

Criticisms over the Government’s handling of the measure regarding free cesarean are similar to ones that have already been voiced about other several decisions. Opposition, ordinary citizens, and analysts, all agree that, although there is on the part of the Government, the willingness to confront the challenges facing the nation, the precipitous manner, in which these problems are being taken on, aims at impressing rather than really solving them. Whether it is about free education, Government response to workers’ demands, micro finance, fight against corruption, agriculture policy, and many different issues, public as well as analysts voiced the same criticisms, which can be summarized in one word: hastiness.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

Saturday, April 4, 2009


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Militants ask for a quick and reliable investigation

On Thursday, April 02, 2009 responding to the call from their leaders, thousands of RB (Rebirth of Benin in French, Renaissance du Bénin) militants and sympathizers turned out in Cotonou streets to utter their indignation over what they see as several attempts aiming at intimidating them.

They also intended to claim their resolution to keep up the fight alongside the positive political forces of the country for the preservation of the February 1990 National Conference of the Active Forces achievements.

The RB militants took to the streets after an attack on the Party headquarters on March 19, 2009 and the statements of both Candide Azannaï, a former RB MP and Ganiou Soglo, current Culture and Sports Minister accusing some the RB leaders of being behind the assault which, according to them, was made to incite people’s sympathy.

For the BR militants and sympathizers such statements, that they see as very provocative, could not be left unanswered. As if the response of Oliver Paraïso to Candide Azannaï on Monday, March 30, 2009, accusing him of being motivated by ministerial ambitions, was not enough, RB militants thought they needed to send a signal the public authorities in charge of security and made clear to them the attack on their Party headquarters could not go unpunished.

Dressed in tee shirts with the Party symbols and slogans or wearing red armbands, echoing the airs of the band chanting militant songs, RB activists marched from Place de l’Etoile Rouge across Avenue du Canada, Cadjèhoun Mosque crossroad, Bon Pasteur Cathedral, Père Aupiais College, Sciences Faculty then reached the Ministry of Interior and Public Security.

It was an impressive mobilization of RB activists with a folk of motorcycle taxi drivers and with banners that bore inscriptions such as, "The RB says no to intimidation and violence", "The RB reaffirmed its membership to the G13, G4, and Force Clé coalition"

At the Interior Ministry, they voiced their demand for justice through a speech, which was read by one Délonix Kogblévi.

He emphasized the resolution of the RB militants to preserve the achievements of February 1990 Conference, and the improvement of Beninese living conditions. Delonix Kogblévi did not fail to express the sympathy, solidarity, and support of RB militants to their fellows who were the victims of the attack, namely John Paul Vieyra and Robert Amoulé. While reaffirming their unwavering commitment to Party ideals and firm support for its leadership, RB activists demand an impartial and credible investigation on the attack.

On receiving the motion of protest, the Interior and Public Security Ministry Chief Staff, Abassi Aley said that he gets their message and he will report it faithfully to his superior. According to him, the investigation, that is under way, will continue, as it should. «The authors of this burglary and these acts of violence will be found and punished accordingly. Better, be still and trust justice. », he said to RB activists.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

Friday, April 3, 2009

Benin Politics : MP CHABI DARE

MP resigns from the ruling FCBE

Chabi Daré was a parliamentarian of the ruling FCBE (Cowries Forces for an Emerging Benin, in French, Forces Cauris pour un Bénin Emergent), which is the presidential alliance set up in the eve of the 2007 legislative elections. He is said to have abandoned FCBE and joined G13. G13 is part of the opposition alliance intending to oust Boni Yayi in 2011.

This resignation is the second from the ruling FCBE. One FCBE former member, the parliamentarian Zoumarou Wallis did the same recently.

However, according to the rumors, there are more resignations to come and more departures from the FCBE to the opposition should be expected, as the divisions within FCBE ranks are deep.

Chabi Daré is said to complain about the exclusive focus of the Head of State on 2011 presidential contest, which, according to him, does not allow him to care for the fate of his own supporters. For him, Boni Yayi has all the time been busy trying to win over opposition partisans neglecting those who always remain faithful to him.

Some analysts in the media suggest that Chabi Daré was bribed into joining the opposition with thirty (30) million CFA francs.

Since the beginning of the democratic era, defection of PMs from one party to another has been common but resignation from a ruling Party is not something common in Benin.

During the 2006 presidential campaign, Boni Yayi has promised to fight malpractice and help restore ethics in Benin politics. Many have hoped that he would commit himself to the fight against what is called in Benin politics «political transhumance» but amazingly, the practice seems to be flourishing under his regime as many opposition partisans who leave their parties are welcome within the presidential camp. This time round, it is the ruling FCBE which records defection from its own ranks. Is it unfair?

At the National Assembly, on Thursday, April 02, 2009, two (02) G13 MPs, Rachidi Gbadamassi and Sacca Fikara alleged that the new comer in the alliance, MP Chabi Daré is under threat. For both, a demonstration is due take place against him in his hometown, Kandi and some habitants intend to attack his house. According to them, Chabi Daré’s wife was taken to the presidential palace.

If this defection is confirmed, it will be a serious blow to Boni Yayi, who is getting increasingly vulnerable.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton


Prospect for a unique candidate for G4, G13 and Force Clé coalition

In November 2008, the opposition parties such as RB (Renaissance du Bénin), MADEP (Mouvement Africain pour le Développment et le Progrès), PSD (Parti Social Démocrate), PRD (Parti du Renouveau Démocratique) and their allies G13 and Force Clé met and expressed their willingness to oust Boni Yayi in 2011, yet the coalition leaders have not come up till now with a workable strategy aiming at ensuring victory in the upcoming elections.

The announcement of the opposition coalition being set up was welcome by many as it is the first time in Benin history that an alliance of political parties has been set up more than two (02) years ahead of an election with the clear objective of seizing power through democratic means. In the past and since the advent of the democratic era in 1990, the political parties have rallied occasionally only to back individual candidates in the second round. Therefore, this has made in Benin politics some individual figures such as Mathieu Kérékou, Nicéphore Soglo and Boni Yayi more prominent than the political parties which have all the time been divided by their bitter rivalries. It is why in the media, analysts as well as ordinary citizens see the birth of G4, G13 and Force Clé coalition as a positive development.

However, since this meeting of Common Political Return which took place in Abomey and Bohicon from 28 to 29 November 2008 and marked the birth of this opposition alliance and despite the apparent willingness repeatedly expressed by the leaders of the alliance to act and work together for change in 2011, little has been achieved till now in terms of an outlined strategy which must be devised in order to make victory possible for them.

For such a strategy to take shape, there have been some key questions that need to be answered but remain unanswered:

1. Should each member party run on its own or rally behind a common and unique candidate for the alliance in the first round?
2. What should be the key aspects or features of the government policy that the alliance is going to propose to the voters during the campaign and pursue if victorious?
3. How the campaign is practically going to take place for the alliance to reach out to the citizens in the different parts of the country?

These are important issues, which have been not addressed so far while the governmental camp on such questions seems to have made considerable progress.

Even though in both camps, the statements lack substance and clear ideas about how to solve the different problems facing the nation, the ruling FCBE and its allies on their part know precisely who is going to be their candidate. Boni Yayi has no reason for not pursuing a second term and is till now doing all he can to gain more popularity.

The presidential coalition also appears to have a clear vision of how it will reach out to people. The decentralized FCBE organs have been set up throughout the country in all the different regions to coordinate the campaign. Apart from this, all the highest officials in Government and in different public departments, the MPs and even the Head of State have all the time been on the ground, meeting and talking to ordinary Beninese. Boni Yayi has relentlessly been touring the whole country and going to most remote parts of the country to show the marginalized ones, how he still cares for them.

Such preparedness two (02) years ahead of the race may prove to be a serious advantage for the ruling FCBE.

On the other side, the opposition, despite the prospect of a unique candidate raised several times by some of its leaders, mainly by Léhady Soglo, still seems divided over the issue. According to analysis in the media and in the public, there have been two (02) views colliding over the strategy, which must be adopted by the alliance.

On one hand, some think that the prospect for a unique candidacy is unrealistic and that even if it were to be achieved, it could not lead to victory. The rational behind this option is that each party should run on its own in the first round. The candidate who will be between the two contenders for the second round will have the support of other alliance members. This strategy should avoid inside the alliance rivalries, which may weaken further a fragile coalition. For the advocates of multiple candidacies in the first round, the prospect for a unique candidate may alienate popular vote in some parts of the country as regional and ethnical considerations play a major role in Benin politics. The fact that there is no candidate running form a region, may cause voters apathy in this specific region while multiple candidates should help mobilize the opposition voters in all regions of the country.

On the other hand, there are those who suggest that the prospect of a unique candidate is the only one that can assure victory for the opposition. The choice of a unique candidate should help mobilize the opposition voters to avoid an outright victory for Boni Yayi in the first round.

If the prospect for a unique candidacy comes to be accepted by the member parties, Adrien Houngbédji will likely be the most serious contender on whom, the alliance must rely upon to win the 2011 presidential elections. In fact, because he is the only one among the current opposition leaders who was able to secure enough votes to take part in the second round in 2006.

However, this prospect for a unique candidate to be effective cannot be made possible without dialogue, concession, and understanding. It is why the leader who is supposed to run as the opposition coalition candidate must prioritize tête-à-tête to convince voters, raise trust and confidence among his partners and among the general public but so for Adrien Houngbédji has not been seen frequently coming out publicly. He seems to have chosen an approach consisting of discretion and rare public appearances. Some analysts even suggest that he is introverted and has not been willing to come out of his retreat.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Opposition coalition boycotts the judges' designation

As a first parliamentary decision appointing six (06) High Court judges was declared unconstitutional, the National Assembly met on Thursday, March 26, 2009 for another designation but when the vote started the irritated opposition left the session.

High Court of Justice is one of the main judicial bodies provided by the Constitution of Benin (Republic). It is competent to deal with any case of crimes or wrongdoings that can be regarded as high treason, involving the acting Head of State or any other acting member of the Executive.
First, on Saturday, December 20, 2008, early in the morning, after a long deadlock that lasted almost a whole week, the Parliament elected its six (06) representatives in the High Court of Justice. The opposition took all the six (06) seats ignoring the call for consensus from the ruling FCBE which boycotted the vote declaring it was unconstitutional.
However, in a decision on January 08, 2009 the move of the National Assembly has been overturned by the Constitutional Court.
The Court's decision was based on the fact this appointment was not made in accordance with representativeness in the National Assembly of different political tendencies. According to the Court, Benin Constitution makes provisions for multiparty democracy and therefore such an appointment should take into account the different political tendencies which are represented in the National Assembly.

Nevertheless, the opposition camp accuses the Court of bias and partiality arguing that previous rulings made by the same Court on the same matter contradict with this latest one. And so opposition coalition which dominates the National Assembly has not been willing to abide by the latest Court's ruling on the issue. As a consequence, the National Assembly was unable to agree on the way to accommodate the Court's decision which according to Benin Constitution can not be subjected to any contestation.

On Thursday, March 26, 2009 the National Assembly met again to debate the issue in order to come up with a solution. The Law Commission which was assigned to find a way out of the deadlock so that the judges' appointment could be made in conformity with Court's ruling had made public its report defining the concept of minority and majority.

The report states the ruling FCBE is the minority while the coalition of ADD (made up of RB and PSD), PRD and G13 is the majority but the opposition argues that this view has nothing to do with the reality since these political parties have not put forwarded to the Speaker a statement making official their existing alliance.

The opposition asked for this report to be submitted to vote but the Speaker of Parliament opposed its request. Despite the absence of the opposition MPs who boycotted the vote, the designation of the National Assembly representatives in the High Court of Justice went ahead. Three (03) representatives were designated by forty one (41) votes against with 1 abstention. The appointees are Erick Nda Kouagou, January Yahouédéhou, Benoît Comlan Degla for the ruling FCBE.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

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