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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... »