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»

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