After promising to establish the single presidential mandate in Benin, Patrice Talon is running for his own succession. The head of state has just dismissed his opponents.
Is power so exhilarating, to the point of forgetting all its commitments in five years? In Benin, Patrice Talon is in any case on the way to becoming one of the most authoritarian presidents of the African continent, far from his promises of 2016. At the time, when he had just been elected in the second round facing Lionel Zinsou, Talon told a journalist about his ambitions. "I dream that the Beninese will carry me in triumph in five years", he affirmed. And the program was enticing: “I was known as king of cotton. Today, I want to become the one who has succeeded in transforming his country, politically, administratively, economically, ”he continued. The newly elected president even wanted to include in his country's constitution the single five-year term.
Five years later, Patrice Talon is still there. Candidate for the second term he wanted to ban sitting presidents. And as if that were not enough, he has just dismissed no less than eight of his presidential competitors. However, at the time, it was enough to listen to the Beninese president to suspect that he was capable of the worst. If he claimed to have "chosen the challenge of a single presidential term", he admitted to being "someone who changes easily". Successful mission: the former king of cotton has become a president who has managed to muzzle the opposition and who seems to have gone for a presidency for life. To do this, the Head of State, through the intermediary of the Constitutional Court, validated two candidacies of opponents who only enjoy minimal popularity.
The elected representatives of the presidential majority put under pressure
To explain the elimination of any credible opposition, Patrice Talon can always rely on the electoral law. To run, presidential candidates must be sponsored by sixteen elected representatives - deputies or mayors -. But behind the scenes, it is a real work of undermining that has been carried out. First of all, only six elected representatives from opposition parties are mayors or deputies capable of sponsoring candidates. In addition, the few elected members of the presidential majority who had agreed to offer their sponsorship to an opponent were asked to change their mind. This would be particularly the case of deputy Ahmed Affo Tidjani.
Consequence: eight candidates were eliminated by the Electoral Commission. Some because of the lack of sponsorships, others because they were in exile or ineligible. Among the failures, the candidate of the party of former president Thomas Boni Yayi, The Democrats. Reckya Madougou, who was also an advisor to Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé, believes she is the victim of "fraud at the top of the state". Several members of his party were summoned by the police, accused of wanting to sabotage the electoral process. The fallen candidate had already had to face another problem: absent from the electoral lists, the former Minister of Microfinance and Youth and Women's Employment had to seize the Constitutional Court to be able to appear there. On April 11, she will not be able to appear against Patrice Talon… but will at least be able to vote.