Friday, July 30, 2010


Parliamentarians ask for his prosecution. Something unusual may be about to happen in Benin where two members of National Assembly, which is the legislative body of the country, have written a letter to the Speaker asking him to convene the Parliament for a session over the possible prosecution against Boni Yayi. Boni Yayi's Government is alleged to be involved in a financial scandal. 

Since the beginning of his presidency in April 2006 an organization named ICC service, which was suppose to be an NGO, has been promising high interests rate to people in return of collecting their savings. ICC Service is said to have collected billion of CFA francs from Beninese. Many among the civil society and in opposition have always tried in vain to call upon the government to take action. 

However, early this month, the government could not remain insensitive to the growing pressure coming from both the National Assembly and the people who could not be in possession of their savings. The Interior Minister, Armand Zinzindohoué known to be a close ally of Boni Yayi was thrown out of the government. He was accused of giving protection to the ICC Service executives. Later he was arrested and released but is still held in house confinement. Boni Yayi wrote a letter to National Assembly’s Speaker urging its members to allow the prosecution of the former Interior Minister before the High Court of Justice. This Court is the only body which, according to Benin constitution, is able to prosecute high officials accused of committing wrongdoings during their time in office. Attorney General was also arrested. 

Yet, there is a widespread sentiment that the President Boni Yayi and his entourage have been deeply involved in this scandal and have been doing all they could to survive politically by making some other high officials scapegoats. During a session held by the National Assembly this month, opposition fiercely criticized the government for failing to protect people’s savings and properties and for indulging in suspicious relationships with criminal groups. 

Now, two National Assembly members, Sacca FIKARA and a former ally of Boni Yayi still member of the ruling FCBE, Janvier YAHOUEDEOU write a letter to Speaker inviting him to convene a session on the issue. Both Parliamentarians think that there are enough charges against Boni Yayi for him to be prosecuted by the High Court of Justice. If this request is favorably considered by the National Assembly, it will be the first time in Benin history since the start the democratic process in 1990 that a President comes under charges before the High Court of Justice.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


While developed countries that are the most responsible for climate change have been bracing themselves for alternative policy on industrialization and on issues such as transport, consumption and so on, developing world has been waiting for developed one to finance its policy aiming at reducing greenhouse emission. Copenhagen climate summit’s failure indicates that Africans’ expectations may never be met in a near future. In that case, what should the policy of African governments be? Benin, is one of the African developing countries which are going to be hit the most by the potential disasters resulting from global warming, yet has still been relying on cotton production as her main export goods causing more damage to the environment.

Cotonou, Benin biggest city in terms of demography is the scene of smoking motorbikes and in the farmlands in northern region, wildfire made to prepare lands for farming is common despite the growing concern about global warming resulting in serious environmental damage. It looks like neither the ordinary citizens nor the leaders in Benin are aware of this challenge facing the world.

In Benin, people still believe that witchcraft and sorcery can provoke the drop of rainfall. This may be the reason why the reduction in the rain causing the domestic foods production to fall does not seem to worry people as it should.

FAO Regional Conference for Africa (ARC) 26th Session, which was held in Luanda (Angola), from 3 to 7 May 2010, pointed out the threats facing the developing nations of Africa. According to the report issued by FAO, African countries will suffer the most from the global warming. The severe drought, the rise of sea level may lead to the disappearance of large portion of fertile lands. Land disputes or conflicts generated by this environmental damage will put instability and peace in jeopardy.

However, many African governments still hope to combat poverty by encouraging the production of crops to meet the industrial demands of developed countries. Boni YAYI, since he came in office in Benin, has been wasting billions of CFA francs to promote cotton production which is no longer competitive due to the subsidizes given by western governments to their farmers. Moreover, because of the reduction of rainfall, the cotton production has been decreasing significantly. A journalist of a local newspaper, La Presse du Jour, in an article issued on April 02, 2010, wrote this:

According to statistics, from 2006 to today, around 92 billion CFA francs has been spent by the government on cotton production in an attempt to boost it. Despite this heavy investment, which should increase domestic production, it has fallen for more than 65%.

This is a policy that does not seem to reverse soon for cotton farmers’ lobby is one of major protagonists involved in Benin politics and no politician dare to lose their support.

However, this has to change because the consequences of inactions will be far worse than the consequences of actions. Benin politicians must take responsibility in combating climate change.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Opposition intended to pass a bill on last Monday, March 01, 2010 to put an end to the process of voters registry computerization but was prevented from doing so by a letter sent to the Speaker by President Boni Yayi, urging him to reject the proposed bill on ground that it would be a breach to international accords Benin signed.

Benin is due to hold its next presidential elections in March 2011. According to Boni Yayi government, these elections must be conducted with a computerized voters’ registry. The Opposition on the other hand accuses the government of not conducting the process of voters’ registry computerization with enough transparency.

The Opposition parties, RB, PRD, PSD, MADEP, and Force Clé which makes up a broad coalition, "Union fait la Nation" (UN) felt that the Head of State, the President Boni Yayi was not willing to listen to them. They have decided to pass a bill in National Assembly that will ban the ongoing voters’ registry computerization process from moving forward.

The Opposition leaders explain that they too agree on the importance of voters’ registry computerization in order to have fair and peaceful presidential elections in March 2011. However, according to them, the way in which the process has been conducted so far does not guarantee transparency and inclusiveness needed for it to be acceptable as a tool that can help prevent vote rigging and assure a fair pool.

During a previous meeting between the Opposition and the Government, it has been decided that the process of voters’ registry computerization will undergo a checkup, which will include both parties (the Opposition and the Government), to find out how effective it could be in helping to conduct a peaceful election. Nevertheless, the Opposition complains it has never been aware of nor been invited to take part into any revaluation of the process. Instead, a United Nation mission who has been in Cotonou since February 22, 2010, has been invited by the Head of State to conduct the evaluation.

The members of this United Nations mission met with both the Opposition and the Government but have not made public their report. Some analysts in local media have expressed fear that Boni Yayi Government might be manipulating the members of United Nations mission.

In a press conference on Monday, March 01, 2010, after Opposition attempt to pass the bill could not go ahead, its leaders criticize the involvement of President Boni Yayi in National Assembly functioning since Benin Constitution, declaring the separation between Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary bodies, does not allow such a move. Lately, the National Assembly Speaker convened the Benin lawmakers to a special session due to take place on Tuesday, March 04, 2010, in Porto-Novo to work on the initial bill, which was supposed to be passed on Monday, March 01, 2010.

On Wednesday, March 03, 2010, news of Epiphane Quenum being relieved of his position as Head of the body that is in charge of voters’ registry computerization process took many by surprise. Though he has been an influential opposition member, Epiphane Quenum has never earned the trust of Opposition leaders since he was appointed to supervise the process. Opposition leaders suggest he has been manipulated by Boni YAYI.