Friday, May 22, 2009


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Boni Yayi sets up a new political coalition

Over 180 political parties and 150 political associations met on Saturday, May 16, 2009, at Palais des Congrès in Cotonou to set up a formal alliance, UMPP (in French: Union pour la Majorité Présidentielle Plurielle) which is supposed to assure a clear victory to Boni Yayi in the March 2011 presidential race.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

Birth of this coalition marks a turning point in Benin politics and indicates Boni Yayi in order to win March 2011 race intends to broaden his political base by opening the access to his camp to more political parties and associations.

President Boni Yayi in his opening statement pointed out that the newly born Alliance should be seen as a gathering of all those who care for Benin development. Accordingly, he invited all other political forces to come together to build the country with him

However, he made very clear that as the Head of State, he is the President of all Beninese and therefore has bias for neither side, nor a political party. Both Amos Elègbè who is one of the major actors behind this Alliance and Idrissou Ibrahima also raised this point.

According to Idrissou Ibrahima, the concept of plural majority responds to the fact that political parties, coalitions of political parties and associations that make up the UMPP retain their autonomy while conforming to the decisions of the Alliance.

Boni Yayi, who is faced with an opposition coalition made up of G4, G13, and Force Clé, knows he cannot rely on an eventual break of this opposition alliance to win the next presidential elections. Therefore, he has decided in the end to unify all the political organizations, which are allied to him. By doing so, he hopes to have a unified and cohesive coalition, which is supposed to increase his chances in these elections.

Many political associations or parties which claim to be backing Boni Yayi’s Government have several times expressed frustrations about the fact that the ruling FCBE has all the time been the only political force the Head of State has actually been relying on. So, the setting up of UMPP is an attempt on the part of Boni Yayi to heal divisions within his camp whose scale is broader than the ruling FCBE.

Since the start of the democratic era in 1990, it is the first time in Benin political history, the Head of State has openly been involved in the formation of an alliance intending to support him.

This is being seen differently in the media. For some, UMPP might be a powerful tool that, if appropriately controlled, can help Boni Yayi secure his reelection. It can also be seen as a sign of the ability of Boni Yayi to undertake political initiatives to oppose his adversaries and thwart their plans.

Many local councilors, members, or even MPs of the opposition parties have defected to join his camp recently. Then, all this may be a positive sign indicating he has been consolidating his grip on the political landscape.

However, other analysts view the birth of UMPP as something that might deepen the division within the ruling FCBE. Since it may increase the already existing rivalries within the presidential camp and lead to its implosion.

In an act of defiance, some FCBE MPs have recently attempted unsuccessfully to form a parliamentary group. The reason behind this inner rebellion was, according to many, due to the defection from G13 Alliance of MP Rachidi Gbadamassi who is said to have been bribed into joining the presidential camp.

The arrival of Rachidi Gbadamassi has triggered this rebellion because it increases the number of rivals within the ruling FCBE. Therefore, the same scenario could take place if many former outsiders were allowed in.

There are analyses suggesting this kind of Alliance in the presidential camp is not something new as there have been many political associations set up to back the President Boni Yayi.

Moreover, it is reported the Executive Board of the newly born Alliance is yet to be installed, as there have already appeared rivalries over who should head it. Some FCBE members suggest they are the ones that should naturally head the Alliance but the smaller political parties think they should have their say.

In such a situation even if this new Alliance might be useful to Boni Yayi to secure his reelection, it is yet to be proven so. Talking about Boni Yayi’s rush in his crusade for his reelection, one Journalist of the daily newspaper, Le Matinal writes: « By accepting the support of Rachidi Gbadamassi, the same that used to vilify him just moment ago and he himself has described as not very advisable as friend, he has alienated the backing of some politicians and the public disenchanted with his governance and his acquaintances with those he formally saw as robbers. This proves that the Head of State does not know either those who are his friends or those who are his opponents. He lacks the ability to indentify those who will be useful to him... »


Former Minister, Constitutional Judge dies in Benin

A former Beninese Minister and current member of the Constitutional Court, Robert Tagnon, died on Sunday, May 17, 2009, of a protracted illness.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

Robert Tagnon died at the National University Hospital Center (CNHU) Hubert Maga Koutoukou in Cotonou.

While he was waiting to undergo a surgery over peritonitis in the evening this Sunday, Robert Tagnon died around 7 P.M. His death reduces the number of Constitutional Judges from seven to six. In fact, it is as a personality with professional renown, a status provided by the Constitution, that he used to sit in the high Court on behalf of the Government.

In case like this one, as required by the organic law of the high court in its article 13, the vacuum caused by his death will be filled with a successor within fifteen days.

The deceased was minister in the government of President Emile Derlin Zinsou in 1968. Under the revolutionary regime, he had been jailed with a certain Saka Fikar for many years.

At the Conference of the Active Forces of the Nation in February 1990, his civil rights were restored thanks to a general pardon. He became Minister in charge of Planning in President Nicéphore Dieudonné Soglo’s government, as Soglo was the first president elected after the start of the democratic era.

In February 2002, he responded to a call from Bruno Amoussou, Minister of State in Kérékou government, as chargé de mission although he was an opposition member. Afterwards, he has returned to anonymity until his appointment, by President Yayi Boni as Constitutional Judge.

Therefore, he used to sit as the six other members of the Court, Robert Dossou, Théodore Holo, Clémence Gnimbéré Dansou, Ali Zime Yerima, Marcelline Gbêha, and Bernard Dégboé after he swore in on the late June 6. He died at the age of 74.

Benin Politics : EU-BENIN

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European Union grants Benin CFA F 33 billion budgetary aid

The European Union (EU) has granted Benin a budgetary aid of 50.5 milllion Euros (about CFA F 33 billion) for the 2009-2011 period, sources close to the Union delegation told PANA here on Monday.


The aid granted, in the form of a donation to strengthen Benin's national budget, aims at supporting the country in implementing the Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy (PRGS) in a bid to meet the Millenium Development Goals.

It is the first stage of a general budgetary support of 100 million Euros as part of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).

With the amount, the EU support has now grown from 10 million Euros annually (CFA F 6.5 billion) to Euros 16.5 million Euros (or CFA F 10.8 billion).

Apart from this support, Benin and the EU also signed, on Thursday, a codicil to the National Indicative Program to increase, by 1.42 million Euros, aid from the EDF, to compensate and help ACP countries face instability in their exports.

The amount will be granted besides the budgetary aid with the disbursement of the annual amount for the year 2010.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Boni Yayi institutes award in honor of late prelate

Beninese Head of State Boni Yayi on Wednesday evening in Cotonou institutionalized an award in memory of the late Beninese prelate, Cardinal Bernardin Gantin.


Tagged the “Cardinal Bernardin Gantin International Great Award,” it is being sponsored by the government and the clergy.

It is aimed at recognizing the efforts of men, women, and institutions that distinguished themselves in the service of humanity.

Cardinal Gantin, who died on 13 May 2008 at the age of 80, was the dean of the College of the Cardinals of the Vatican and occupied top posts in the Catholic Church and within the Vatican.

Benin Politics : BENIN POLITICS

Where does RB stands?

There have been reports in the media about a crisis meeting, which took place at the Party headquarters in Cotonou and gathered the members of Executive Board on late Wednesday, May 13, 2009 from 7 P.M. to 1 A.M. local time.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

Two years ahead of next presidential elections due to take place in March 2011, on the political scene, the position of Renaissance du Bénin, whose stand might condition the outcome of this election, is still unclear.

The meeting was reported to be so tense and the differences of views were openly voiced. For the hardliners, the leader of BR group in National Assembly has been misleading the Party. Many BR activists share this view and see the successive votes of the Party in favor of the presidential camp in the National Assembly as a grave mistake on the part of Rosine Soglo, the Party Chairwoman.

The strongest adversary of Mrs. Soglo in RB right now is Léhady Soglo who happens to be her son. While Léhady Soglo and his father, the former Head of State, Nicéphore Soglo think, BR has nothing to gain in collaborating with Boni Yayi’s Government and that it should remain part of the opposition coalition of G4, G13, and Force Clé, Rosine is said not to trust the other party leaders involved in this Alliance.

The newspapers have also reported that before this BR Executive Board meeting, there was a face-to-face encounter late in the evening on Tuesday, May 12, 2009 between the Head of State, Boni Yayi and Renaissance of Benin Chairwoman, Rosine Soglo. This visit of Boni Yayi to Mrs. Soglo has been seen as an occasion for the Head of State to thank her for her support to the presidential camp in National Assembly.

The RB Executive Board meeting has been convened after Benin National Assembly finally passed on Monday, May 04, 2009, the LEPI (Voters Registry Computerization Act in French, Liste Electorale Permanente Informatisée) act opening the way for its implementation.

The passing of this draft law in National Assembly was made possible thanks to RB. The Party has sided with the ruling FCBE to vote in favor of the bill while the opposition coalition of G4, G13 and Force Clé to which belongs RB has agreed to vote against it.

Since the formation of the G4 Alliance following the March 2008 joined declaration and during the Seminar of Common Return held in October 2008, where the opposition coalition has expressed its disapproval about the way Boni Yayi has been administering public affairs, RB has never been constant in its standing.

Therefore, many analysts in media still question the ability of opposition coalition to achieve its aim that is to oust Boni Yayi in the upcoming presidential race due to take place in March 2011.


« Almighty Money threatens Beninese democracy»

As corruption has become a chronic illness of Benin politics with MPs defecting from one camp to another, the well-known journalist, columnist, and analyst Léo BRATHIER from the daily newspaper, L’Autre Quoditien has voiced his concerns. Here is what he has to say:

Translated by Alfred Cossi Chodaton

«Almighty Money has insidiously invaded Beninese democracy. This evil is not specific to a particular government. It is a social phenomenon. Since the start of the democratic era, in fact, it has begun to expand in such a scale that it has been pushing the boundaries of ethics. The politicians involved in political corruption, do not even seem to bother about any sense of decency to acknowledge its existence and even to try to justify it.

An attitude that an article issued by L’Autre Quotidien yesterday pointed out in the title: «Transhumance and bribe of conscience: serious ethical problems for National Assembly. » Then, as to illustrate the comments made by this article and justify what it reveals as an admission or suspicion of bribery of MP, our colleague of "Fraternité" yesterday interviewed a MP from the presidential camp over the act of the spectacular realignment of one its most truculent opponents. He, in his turn, suggested, «there are people that you can not get close to, and people you can get close to, and just give them two or three "things" and change their minds. » A reality or a feeling? For some, if they blame themselves, they know the nature of the phenomenon. He went on, responding to a question about the difficult collaboration with his former political adversary, with whom he used to play the dog and the cat, only a few months ago, to say: « Politics is a game of interest. The interest is not necessarily money ... It is the fact of having a special reason for being here or there »

Speaking about the return of his former opponent, he continued his argument: «... the day his interest will not be safeguard here, he will leave» It is clear for the voter what are the real motivations of MPs that they have elected to defend his or her interests! These interests are supposed to the ones of their constituents rather than their own. However, the MP has no obligation of accountability towards people over his materially motivated reversals, and the people do have no opportunity to sanction him other that the elections. Of course, if the voter himself, has not been bribed into voting against his own will.

Therefore, in a context where Almighty Money conditions politics, the legitimate aspirations of people, ethics that found democratic culture, are obviously forgotten. As the reality of political corruption is, as such that it causes the political institutions and citizens to consider unavoidable the effect of money and admit by cynicism or disappear no political choice will hold if it is not “bought” with money. By contagion effect, this type of corruption has even spread in all elective activities within the associations and professional corporations. We may falsely argue that we live a century marked by the death of all ideologies and the perverse and cynical realism, is the norm. Everyone does with this reality because in a poor society like ours, the fact that one does not accept it is a defection. And these societies divided between materialistic motives and traditional ethics, will judge you with the prism of this realism, generally as a failure, even if consciously it is assumed that those who do not aligned on this pseudo standard, is a « honest man». The Almighty Money has destroyed all beliefs. Moreover, the best ones will not necessarily be the most deserving ones, the most conscientious, hard-working, and honest ones. The world of the Almighty Money belongs to «the smarter one» not always in the sense of positive intelligence, but in the sense of opportunism. At the point where we are on this phenomenon, it is necessary to wonder if it is still possible that Benin democracy – that hypocritically continues to viewed as a laboratory for Africa – gets itself out of the kind of perversion of political corruption and ideological annihilation. Since the most pernicious corruption to our developing societies, is not certainly the one that has been vilified through the major scandals evoked in the media and relates to those who run public affairs or corporations. However, it is the one, which insidiously begins to become the norm in politics especially in the electoral realm and in the administration of our political national life. A democracy, where it is acceptable at all levels of society and institutions that all is buyable as vulgar goods, is not predestined to a much bright future. »


RB MP dies in car crash

Renaissance du Bénin, the Party of the former Head of State, Nicéphore Soglo, who happens to be Cotonou Mayor, is bereaved by the death of one of its MP, Paulin Tomanaga. He passed away after a car accident on last Thursday, May 07, 2009.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

Paulin Tomanaga, died on Thursday evening at Cotonou National University Health Centre (CNHU), following a road accident, which occurred, on his way to his hometown, Abomey city, in the central region of the country. Therefore, Benin National Assembly is once again grieving.

According to reports, the MP left Cotonou around 1 P.M. for Bohicon. However, he will never reach his destination. Up to Hinvi neighborhood, the MP’s vehicle went under a parked jumbo jet. Tomanaga's driver died on the spot as the car collided violently with the truck about 60 km north of Cotonou.

Lately, Tomanaga, 73 years old, was Tuesday appointed second reporter of National Assembly’s Education Committee by his colleagues to represent the institution at the High Court of Justice.

At the residence of Paulin Tomanage, people were consternated. Just in a short time, nearly the whole Municipal Council of Bohicon was present at his house to inform and support the family of the dead.

Some BR members called by phone could not express their emotion, as their pain was obviously overwhelming. The same goes for some MPs who could not believe what they were hearing.

It should be remembered that before being elected as a member of parliament, Paulin Tomanage was Bohicon Mayor. He is a devoted Christian Catholic, married and father to four boys. He was also the Parish Church of Saint Charles Louanga Board’s Chairman in his hometown. The name of his substitute is Wohou Donatien, currently member of Bohicon Municipal Council.


Gbadamissi explains why he resigned

Since he made public his resignation from G13 Alliance and his alignment to the presidential camp during a press conference on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 in Parakou, MP Rachidi Gbadamassi, who used be an adversary of President Boni Yayi, has be outside the country. On his arrival from Paris, on Sunday, May 10, 2009, he made a statement confirming his new entente with Boni Yayi’s camp.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

At the Cadjéhoun airport, where his show attracted many, he made a statement aiming at explaining to the public the real motives behind his defection. To him, by joining the presidential camp and defecting from G13 Alliance, he has chosen to side with the people. He went on to warn his former allies. Here is what he had to say:

«Let me, before anything; thank the newspapers, because you contribute to the entrenchment of democracy. I thank all those who spoke either in a positive way or in a negative one. This is about the stake of democracy’s vitality in Benin. As a democrat, I can only agree with the vibrancy of Benin democracy. In a democratic State, none can prevent others from saying what they think. Today, I intend to make a declaration and not a press conference. The press conference will be on the ground in the eighth constituency. Then, we will see who is who. For the meantime, I can assure you the playtime has come to an end. The time has come for truth to come out. The time of reconciliation with the people has come. The time for Benin harmonious development has come. The time for reconciliation with our conscience has come. There is not more unworthy and more despicable man than someone that does things and refuses to take responsibility for them, especially when these acts are in the interest of the people. Is not there a local maxim that says: “while you do not know where you are going, at least you know where you have come from?” I did things and I take responsibility for them. I am not someone who runs away from his responsibilities. My friends know me. The man, who cannot die, cannot live. I am a man of character and that is why I address you, dear people of the 8th that gave me the mandate to represent you in National Assembly. Who am I not to listen to the voice of the people? Who am I not to hear the voice of my electorate? Who am I not to listen to the dignitaries and religious denominations? When you enjoy such a popular support among the people, there are things that you cannot afford to do. One does not play with the people’s interests. Who am I to go against the will of the people of Dassa, Malanville, Cotonou? Who am I not to answer the voice of conscience? One must be guided by common sense. It would not be possible for me to have a morality different from the one of my constituents. It is true. I had to choose between my friends and my constituents. I preferred the latter. I offer my apologies. I could not do otherwise. The circumstances have led me to decide in favor of voters. The degree of the politician is the people. If the people leave him, he has no more political future. If my friends do not understand my choice, may they forgiven me! I found myself in the same position as the General Kérékou at the National Conference. He followed the will of the people and rejected his political friends. History finally proves him right. I hope they join me soon. As for you, my dear brother and friend, MP Issa Salifou, for all that you gave, I have been awaiting you on the other side. The bank that must be yours. We must free ourselves from the politicians who manipulate us against the will of the people. I prayed and asked God. If I am wrong by going to Dr. Yayi Boni, may God give all the strengths to Saley to get me back! If not, I brought the G13 to development. The past misunderstandings with the Government are the result of a lack of dialogue. I know you are a believer and you are aware of the power of Allah. For my yesterday’s friends, the only dominant philosophy is the change of driver. However, who will replace the current valid driver. Will the replacement be better or worse? They had no answer to all these concerns. It is change or nothing else, even if the boat, Benin would capsize. I am not a deluge maker. I am a true nationalist and panafricanist. I am politically stable. That is what pushed me to the resignation from G13. One knows when it all starts, but never when it might end up.

And you, President Boni Yayi, you are the father of the nation. I was with General Kérékou, who after a very heated debate, asked me to support you. I have decided, after a profound thinking, to act in accordance with the wise advice of this great man and stop my political guerilla warfare against you. I will support your actions in favor of the country’s development, reveal what might be wrong, and make the appropriate proposals. My only advice to you is to focus on political and social dialogue. Tonight, I take responsibility for my views and I support your good works in favor of the country’s development and the achievement of peaceful democracy. I ask my friends not to use verbal attacks and manipulation of media against me, so that I do not have to respond scathingly. They know me and I know them. I am an independent or related to a political party. In the days to come, if they dismiss me from the party, I will appraise this new situation. In these circumstances, I will make a detailed assessment of the Government initiatives and perform my constitutional duties with conscience. Talking about transhumance while referring to my case would be an abuse of language and unfamiliarity with the word transhumance. Finally, I simply ask everybody to retain this: Gbadamassi did not resign for selfish and individualist ends »

Friday, May 8, 2009


Prospect for Bio Tchané’s candidacy more likely than ever

During his short trip in Benin, Bio Tchané has let hints appear both in his address and in gestures which might suggest he would definitely be a contender in March 2011 presidential race.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

For a while, there has been a lot rumors coming out about his possible candidacy. Moreover, many opposition politicians have voiced their support to this possible candidature.

Of course, so far he himself has never expressed publically any opinion about his alleged willingness in taking part in the race. However, it was before he came in Cotonou on a short trip. On the sidelines of the signing of a loan agreement for the funding of the road line which links Djougou and Ouaké, Abdoulaye Bio Tchané, President of West African Development Bank (BOAD) held a press conference alongside, the WAEMU Global Economic Crisis Committee Chairman, Soumaïla Cissé at Ibis Hotel in Cotonou.

Answering the questions of the journalists about his alleged willingness to be a contender in March 2011 presidential race, Bio Tchané said, « I am aware that this issue is a concern to many of our compatriots in the country. However, elections are still two years ahead and I am a citizen like everyone else. May God allow us to live until then! »

Such a statement can be seen as a sign that the prospect for Bio Tchané’s candidacy is more likely than ever before. Bio Tchané means he, as a citizen of Benin, does not rule out the possibility of being a candidate.

Apart from this clue in his speech, one should not fail to mention the noticeable presence of some politicians who have been urging him to respond positively to the call of the citizens on him to be a candidate in March 2011 presidential race. One could refer to MP, Zoumarou Wallis, one the strongest adversaries of Boni Yayi. Last weekend on a television channel, Zoumarou Wallis once again pointed out the irreversibility of Bio Tchané’s candidacy. Former MP, Assane Seibou also attended the press conference and confirmed this candidacy when questioned by journalist. The former Minister Boubacar Arouna was also present.

After the press conference, Bio Tchané went on to an outlet located behind the National Health Training Center (CNHU), commonly called "Morgue", pretending he had been there to get some newspapers to find out about the news. Everyone knows that this is a political microcosm, which is the proper place where he could gauge his popularity. In fact, the area always booms with folk of drivers of taxi-motorbikes from all political sides gathering all the time to talk about politics. It is clear that he went there to appreciate the pulse prevailing and appraise the admiration he enjoys with this social group.

The West African Development Bank, which Bio Tchané heads as Boni Yayi’s successor, has granted Benin a USD16-million loan for the construction of the road linking Djougou-Ouaké to the country's border with Togo, according to official sources. This road construction will help open up the north-central part of the country and increase trade between Benin and its neighbors in the sub-region.

This loan might also be seen as one more sign indicating Bio Tchané is willing to respond positively to people’s call. Djougou is his hometown and as such, a prospect for him to be a candidate cannot be credible unless he gets the support of his hometown. Hence, he must use his position to get their backing. It is what he seems to be doing right now.

In early February 2009, Bio Tchané made a short trip to Djougou. It was a trip, which had been seen in the media as a test to gauge his popularity with the people of his hometown. The test at the time turned to be a success because the population was reported to have gathered along the way as his convoy passed throughout the city. At the great mosque of the city, he met the elders and the local dignitaries before holding a meeting with the municipal council, which counts on him for the development of Djougou.

Bio Tchané is also said to have the backing of both G13 Alliance, which is among the opposition forces at work for a change in Government in 2011 and the former Head of State, Mathieu Kérékou who is still an influential figure on Benin political scene.

Benin Politics : BENIN-WADB

West African Development Bank grants Benin loan to build roads

The West African Development Bank has granted Benin a USD16-million loan toward the construction of the road linking Djougou-Ouaké to the country's border with Togo, official sources told PANA here Wednesday.


Jointly financed by the Regional Integration Fund (FAIR) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), the project will help open up the north-central part of the country and increase trade between Benin and its neighbors in the sub-region.

The loan is fallout of the bank's 2009-2013 strategic plan, which aims to increase its investments in energy, road, and ports, among others, as well as improve economic integration in the sub-region.

With the latest loan, the bank's investments in Benin has reach CFA F 36.9b (US$ 73 million) over seven years.


Boni Yayi has finally won the battle

With the entire political arena, bracing itself for the next presidential elections due to take place in March 2011, LEPI act has become an important battleground where the opposition coalition and the ruling FCBE has fought each other to control the outcome of its examination in National Assembly. In end, it is the presidential camp, which has now been claiming victory, since Monday, May 04, 2009, when it was passed.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

National Assembly passed LEPI draft law by a majority vote of 64 to 00 with 01 abstention. It is a derogative law on the implementation of a permanent computerized voters registry made up of 68 articles divided in 05 chapters.

The debates were punctilious. The vote was made possible after extended discussions during which sensitive issues have been pointed out and discussed. It is foremost the subject relating to litigation in light of Benin institutions’ past failures to resolve the post electoral disputes which have erupted recently and of other cases in which their deficiencies were glaring. Opposition MPs have referred to the cases of disputes, which are still pending as well as to those previously settled and that have all the times been in favor of the Government.

In this regard, the opposition MPs have proposed that the courts of first instance are entitled to deal with any litigious case arising from the LEPI implementation. However, the President of the Law Committee rejected this approach and preferred reference to be made to the Constitutional Court.

The examination of this of law has also revealed the contradictions, which are still weakening the opposition coalition of G4, G13 and Force Clé as, for this vote, each opposition party, acted in accordance with its individual interests. RB, which is the author of one of the proposed draft laws through MP Epiphane Quenum, could not contradict itself and voted for this law. PRD MPs apparently could not reach a consensus within its own ranks. Therefore, some of its members had to leave the chamber without voting.

Therefore, the malaise within the opposition coalition seems to be getting deeper and deeper and it is likely that its cohesion will be shattered before the presidential race scheduled to take place in March 2011. If this trend does not reverse, it will diminish considerably the chance of this opposition of seizing power after these elections.

LEPI act has become something inevitable as the most of previous elections held in Benin have been marked by post electoral disputes. Moreover, the next presidential elections have been raising a lot of apprehension due to the obsession of the entire political arena with it despite the fact that it is still two years ahead.


National Assembly has passed LEPI draft law

Benin National Assembly finally passed on Monday, May 04, 2009, the LEPI (Voters Registry Computerization Act in French, Liste Electorale Permanente Informatisée) act opening the way for its implementation.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

In fact, this law, which was passed by National Assembly at Palais des Gouverneurs in Porto-Novo, is two-folded. The first is LEPI and the second one, RENA. While LEPI is about the Computerization of Voters Registry, RENA is related to the National Electoral Census. The law was passed article by article.

However, the discussions were quite divisive. The opposition coalition was divided over the issue as RB rallied behind the ruling FCBE to back the passing of the act and the other opposition parties attempted to block the vote by asking for suspensions.

It was the PRD MP, Augustin Ahouanvoébla, who requested a suspension to allow more consultation among the Parliamentarians. The Speaker of National Assembly, Mathurin Nago, submitted his request to vote. His request was rejected by a majority of 44 votes opposed to the suspension against 32 in favor of it. This majority was made possible by the backing of RB.

Shortly after, MP Timothy Gbédiga who belongs to the same parliamentary group asked for a suspension again. However, his request was also rejected the same way as the request of his peer. Therefore, National Assembly went ahead to vote the law. The most heated debate started when it came to deciding which body should take responsibility for LEPI implementation.

This vote can be seen as a major achievement for the presidential camp, which hopes that the implementation of LEPI would insure a clear victory to Boni Yayi in next presidential race scheduled to take place in March 2011. On the contrary, the attitude of RB MPs raises more doubt about the ability of the opposition coalition really to be a united front.

As all the previous elections held in Benin have been marked by post electoral disputes, the entire political scene has come to be aware of the need for computerization of voters’ registry. Nevertheless, the vote of LEPI act has been delayed because both the opposition coalition of G4, G13 and Force Clé and the ruling FCBE and its allies have been striving to dominate National Assembly and control the outcome of its examination. This is one of reasons why so many defections from one party or parliamentary group to another have been recorded lately, plunging National Assembly into crisis.

Anyway, it has finally come to be passed. There must be now among the ordinary people a sense of relief as this law can help assure a free and fair election and preserve peace in the country.


A new parliamentary group is to be set up

Last Thursday, April 30, 2009 when National Assembly met for the examination on the draft law regarding the Voters Registry Computerization Project (in French, Liste Electorale Permanente Informatisée) was marked by series of resignations from the ruling FCBE.

Alfred Cossi Chodaton

The news came out as a big surprise to everybody. some FCBE MPs Edgar Alias, Adam Boni Tessy, Da Matha Sant’Anna Luc André Dassoundo, Seidou Adambi, and Janvier Yahouédéou resigned from their initial parliamentary group, Bénin Emergent Gouvernance Concertée where all the MPs belonging to presidential majority were united. Of course, Benin politics is used this kind of defection from one party or parliamentary group to another. This ongoing trend in Benin National Assembly has mainly been due to the attempts on both camps, the opposition coalition of G13, G4, and Force Clé and the presidential camp to get the majority by wooing the PMs of the advert coalition into defecting.

These latest defections came after a number of resignation. Wallis Zoumarou defected from the ruling FCBE to join the opposition Alliance G13 in November 2008. Isidore Gnonlonfoun defected from the PRD which is an opposition Party to the presidential camp in December 2008. Chabi Tokou Dari defected from the ruling FCBE to the opposition Alliance G13 in the early April 2009. And, Rachidi Gbadamassi defected from G13 Alliance to the presidential camp in the late April 2009.

However, what is the most confusing aspect of this development is the fact that the defectors who intend to form another parliamentary group named FBCE, declare they are still willing to back Boni Yayi’s Government. In order to be able to form a new parliamentary group, these MPs were joined by other MPs either from the opposition Alliance or from allied parties to the ruling FCBE. Therefore, the new parliamentary group is made up of Edgar Alia who heads it, Eloi Aho, Boni Tessi Adam, Zoumarou Walis, Da Matha Sant’Anna Luc, Dassoundo André, Gnonlonfoun Isidore, Seidou Samou Adambi, and Yahouédéou Janvier.

FCBE parliamentarians such as Yahouédéou Janvier and Da Matha Sant’Anna Luc have expressed at some occasions their disappointment over the way the country has been governed.

Nevertheless, these defections do not help anyone apprehend further, what is going on because despite their resignation from their initial parliamentary group, the dissident MPs in their statement reaffirm their support to the Head of State.
There have been many interpretations about this collective resignation. Some analysts see this as a way of signalling their frustrations over some issues among which is the attempt to poach opposition MPs in order to have a strong majority and control the vote of the LEPI draft law in National Assembly. As well as the opposition, the ruling FCBE and its allies hope to win the majority and dictate their wishes in the vote of the LEPI act. One of the most divisive aspects of this law is the choice and the composition of the institutions, which should head the process of LEPI implementation. The presidential camp intends to give the Head of State the upper hand in the appointment of the members of these important institutions.

However, in his speech delivered at the UNDP convention on Saturday, February 21, 2009, in Bohicon, Janvier Yahouédéou has expressed concerns about the approach of the President Boni Yayi over the LEPI implementation. Therefore, the formation of this new parliamentary group might be attempt to avoid the total control of the Government over LEPI because if the ruling FCBE were to have the majority in National Assembly, it would make possible for Boni Yayi to have a tight control over the LEPI implementation. By staging their defections, these MPs may hope to reduce Boni Yayi’s grip on the Parliament and therefore his control over the outcome of LEPI.

Another contentious issue, which might have triggered this series of resignation, is the defection of MP Rachidi Gbadamassi who is allegedly said to have been bribed with a lot of amount of cash into defecting the G13. There have been all sorts of rumours. Some alleged that Gbadamassi had received in exchange of his defection form the G13 Alliance about 2 billion FCFA.

It is likely that these MPs see this defection as a dangerous development which raises doubt about the credibility of Benin democracy. For these PMs, the desperate eagerness of the Head of State and his lieutenants to control the outcome of the LEPI examination causes them to use all unethical means to achieve their aims.

According to media sources, the Head of State in an attempt to diffuse the tension met the MPs of his camp on Thursday, April 30, 2009 at Presidency Palace trying to persuade them that he had never been involved in the Gbadamassi case. Nevertheless, the event at the National Assembly indicates he did not succeed in convincing them.

Anyway, the Speaker of National Assembly refused to formalize the birth of this group arguing some of its members are yet to resign from their initial group.

Lately, it is reported that the MP Adam Boni Tessy has withdrawn from the group stating that the decision of his resignation was taken in haste without throughout consideration of its implications. However, the other MPs are still determined to go ahead with their plan.