Friday, May 8, 2009


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.

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