The Beninese press announced the dismissal of Sévérin Quenum from his post as Minister of Justice. Since then, it has been radio silence, both on the side of the government and the presidency.
Before becoming Minister of Justice, he was the personal lawyer of Patrice Talon, the President of Benin. Nothing therefore indicated a departure of Sévérin Quenum from the government. And yet, despite the promise made by Patrice Talon, on March 13, not to carry out a cabinet reshuffle, Sévérin Quenum would have been landed. The now former Minister of Justice, who entered the government in 2018 to replace Joseph Djogbénou, appointed to the Constitutional Court, is announced outgoing by the Beninese press.
An announcement which, since yesterday, has still not been confirmed or denied by the government. In Cotonou, speculation is therefore going well: what is the future of Séverin Quenum made of? Currently, it is a renewal at the Constitutional Court that is mentioned by observers. But other rumors indicate that it is the chaotic situation of the Beninese justice which would be at the origin of the departure of the minister.
Already, and before this dismissal is finally commented on, several people close to the government indicate that the Réckya Madougou and Joël Aïvo cases precipitated the fall of the Minister of Justice. This second would have sent a letter to the Keeper of the Seals to complain about the fate reserved for him and the silence of the Ministry of Justice regarding his conditions of detention.
A fuse for Patrice Talon?
Joël Aïvo, in his missive, draws the minister's attention “to some of the emergencies of your ministry. This is the case of our compatriots forgotten by justice in our prisons. I managed to get a few out of prison thanks to the service of my lawyers, but there are still several dozen abandoned by their judges. Placed in pre-trial detention, they have thus been waiting temporarily, some for ten years, others for twenty years, to be judged in order to be condemned or perhaps to be acquitted”.
But Patrice Talon nevertheless knows what is happening in his prisons. It is even without a doubt one of the brakes on these judgments. But in recent months, the Beninese president has multiplied gestures of appeasement and released several of his political opponents. Will Sévérin Quenum serve as a fuse for the Head of State?
Sévérin Quenum is in any case, if the information was confirmed, the second minister to lose his portfolio, after Hervé Hêhomey, the former Minister of Transport. But the latter has never really been out of favor, even going so far as to return to his post in 2019.