- Posted August 24, 2013 by
State of democracy under Boni Yayi's rule
After their ascension to independence on August 1, 1960, followed by a decade of political and institutional instability until 1972 and a Marxist-Leninist dictatorship from 1972 to 1989, the people of Benin through the historical February 1989 National Conference of Active Forces of the Nation opted for liberal democracy. It was an example of peaceful transition from a totalitarian regime to democracy that has raised hopes in the world and in Africa. Since then, Benin politics has been marked by regular and free elections, free press, separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers, cohesion and national unity and active and independent civil society.
All these democratic gains are threatened today because of our current Head of State, Boni Yayi who misses no opportunity to jeopardize them:
On August 1, 2012, in an interview with television reporters, violating his constitutional oath to preserve national unity, President Boni Yayi said in response to criticism from the opposition, “I will call on my people from remote parts of Benin and they [the opposition and my people] will fight one another.” These remarks that constitute a transgression to national unity and a call to violence and ethnic hatred were condemned by the Constitutional Court. The court said that the Head of State has infringed the provisions of the Constitution.
Recruitments in public administration give rise to frauds that favor candidates close to the Head of State and senior officials. The most obvious case was the contest held in July and August 2012 by the Ministry of Labor and Public Service on behalf of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Those selected are close to the Minister of Labor and Public Service and its associates. These people selected have never taken part in the examinations. The Government of Boni Yayi has remained insensitive to the denunciations of the lack of transparency and the discrimination based on ethnic background in the organization and holding of such contests.
Access to public media is denied to the opposition and any organization whose opinions differ from those of the ruling party. This politicization of the public media are accompanied by a muzzling of private media affiliated to the government by business contracts that are an effective means of pressure;
Entrepreneurs who do not pledge allegiance to the Head of State or who do not adhere to his project of constitutional amendment are subject to fiscal harassment or accused of imaginary conspiracies. The most striking cases are those of Patrice Talon and Sebastien Adjavon.
Several officials in the entourage of the Head of State involved in scandals and corruption go unpunished. Those who were dismissed under popular pressure are not prosecuted so far.
The government is making an almost permanent interference in the functioning of the judiciary. The most obvious example is the case of the accused in cases of coup and attempted poisoning of the Head of State. Despite court rulings ordering their release Zoubérath Kora, Moudjaidou Soumanou and Ibrahim Cisse Mama accused of attempted poisoning of the Head of State and Johannes Dagnon and Pamphile Zomahoun accused of coup are still kept in prison.
Local and municipal elections scheduled for March 2013 have been postponed indefinitely. It is a blow to the process of decentralization and grassroots democracy. To co-opt the various parties that may oppose the proposed opportunistic amendment of the Constitution, the Head of State allows local officials to illegally extend their mandate.
All these acts of bad governance have contributed to a decline of Benin in almost all areas, including economic and social ones. Benin's population lives in a hateful impoverishment and many people are no longer able to make ends meet. The latest studies on economic development published by the World Bank ranked Benin the eighth poorest country in the world and the third poorest country in Africa. But this is far from causing the head of state and his entourage to think about the poverty facing the people. Rather, one has been witnessing for months demonstrations funded by his coalition for the amendment of the Constitution. During these demonstrations, banknotes are distributed to these people that are ignorant, illiterate, and abandoned in poverty and therefore easily manipulated and bribed. Breaching his promises to Pope Benedict XVI, Boni Yayi wants to imitate former Senegalese president in changing republic to stand for election a third term in office.
In face of all this foregoing, the discontent among the Benin people is growing and may at any time escalate into violence and outbursts of anger. President Boni Yayi he has no right to violate the spirit of the principles of democracy and freedom as he has been doing, to be ungrateful towards his people that used to have faith in him.