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World The fight for Benin's democratic future

11:25  11 april  2021
11:25  11 april  2021 Source:   bbc.com

Top Benin judge says flees country denouncing pressure

  Top Benin judge says flees country denouncing pressure A top Benin judge on Monday said he had quit and fled the West African country, condemning political pressure that he alleged included a demand to detain an opposition figure in the runup to presidential elections. Sunday's presidential election promises few surprises, with Talon facing two little-known opposition candidates. Benin has long been seen as a vibrant multi-party democracy, but Talon's critics say the country has veered into authoritarianism under his rule.Opponents say the vote is already rigged to favour Talon, a cotton magnate first elected in 2016.

Voters in Benin are taking part in elections following days of protests over President Patrice Talon' s broken promise to serve only one term in office. There are just two other candidates on the ballot, in a country dubbed the birthplace of African multiparty democracy . "We do not need every person in Benin to run as candidates in an election for it to be representative. Once you have the ruling party and the opposition represented, an election is complete - and the democratic system is operational," communication minister Alain Arounla said.

The fight over trade policy between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden will come to a head in Michigan, where primary voters will choose one of two opposing visions. After four years of Trump' s trade wars and tariffs, pivotal Democratic voting blocs are shifting their view of foreign trade. Democratic presidential hopefuls Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (L) and former Vice President Joe Biden chat during a break in the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on October 15

Voters in Benin are taking part in elections following days of protests over President Patrice Talon's broken promise to serve only one term in office.

Patrice Talon standing in front of a building: President Patrice Talon is running for a second term in polls where several key rivals are in exile or barred © AFP President Patrice Talon is running for a second term in polls where several key rivals are in exile or barred

There are just two other candidates on the ballot, in a country dubbed the birthplace of African multiparty democracy.

Alassane Soumanou of the opposition FCBE party is a former minister, while Corentin Kohoué is seen as more of a wildcard.

Several key opposition figures - including an ex-prime minister and a former mayor of the biggest city Cotonou - have either been arrested and ruled ineligible or are now in exile.

Benin opposition supporters block roads ahead of vote

  Benin opposition supporters block roads ahead of vote "Talon, leave power," shouted an angry crowd of about sixty people after setting up a makeshift barricade Wednesday on a main road in central Benin, one of several protests against President Patrice Talon days before he seeks re-election. Talon is set to win a second term on April 11 but opponents say the vote is already rigged in favour of the cotton magnate first elected in 2016. Benin has long been applauded as a strong multi-party democracy but critics say that under Talon, the West African country has veered into authoritarianism.

Even before Bernie Sanders began surging in the polls, a battle was taking place behind the scenes for the soul of the Democratic Party. As they were

The opening volleys of the second Democratic primary debate offered an immediate contrast between the candidates' competing ideas about the direction of the party -- thanks in large part to former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. Sen. Bernie Sanders took the first question, talking up his Medicare for all plan. In response to a question from the moderator, he said that taxes would go up in order to make it happen. His argument: Health care costs for would go down, creating a net financial benefit.

But a government spokesman has told the BBC "no-one is excluded from this election".

"We do not need every person in Benin to run as candidates in an election for it to be representative. Once you have the ruling party and the opposition represented, an election is complete - and the democratic system is operational," communication minister Alain Arounla said.

More than 5.5 million people are eligible to vote, including about 45,500 in the diaspora, and results are expected within days.

What happened in the protests?

Many in Benin question the legitimacy of the election and some fear more violence could break out, reports the BBC's Lalla Sy who was recently in Cotonou.

One person was killed in the town of Savè on Thursday, officials say, while health workers report that another six people suffered gunshot wounds after confrontations with security forces. Demonstrations also happened in the cities of Cotonou, Parakou and three other towns.

Backtracking on one-term pledge, Benin President Talon seeks five more years

  Backtracking on one-term pledge, Benin President Talon seeks five more years Backtracking on one-term pledge, Benin President Talon seeks five more yearsCOTONOU, Benin (Reuters) - Benin's President Patrice Talon, who previously vowed to serve only one term, enters Sunday's election a heavy favourite to win five more years in office amid criticism he has tarnished the country's reputation as one of West Africa's model democracies.

This was the long, sad story of the Democratic Party in the postwar years. It might see a New Frontier on the horizon or imagine a Great Society, but it never really got around the generals and the profiteers of the military-industrial complex. It might grasp at the promise of hope and change, but it was And yet on that morning in 2018, as I wandered across the barnyard where a young Henry Wallace came to recognize the great possibility of the American experiment, I felt as if the Democratic Party that he had championed, the morally driven and future -oriented party he imagined in 1945, might yet come into

First came democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ s stunning victory against House Democrat Joe Crowley, who had been previously seen by some of his House colleagues as a future House speaker. That victory was followed by progressive Boston city councillor Ayanna Pressley’ s upset These wins served as confirmation that the ideas made popular by the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign had a real constituency, and that the Democratic left was here to stay. In addition to progressives beginning to push out more moderate Democrats in safely Democratic seats, some of

a man doing a trick on a skateboard: Demonstrators blocked this road in the town of Toui on Wednesday © AFP Demonstrators blocked this road in the town of Toui on Wednesday

"We want the president to leave. Five years means five years," Cotonou protester Rodrigue Amadou told Reuters news agency.

The authorities have accused the protestors of starting the violence, saying the security forces were assaulted by drugged and armed youths. But others say it is an example of how Benin has become more authoritarian under President Talon's rule.

Some see parallels with the exclusion of all opposition parties from parliamentary elections back in 2019, which sparked protests where security officers opened fire on protestors and a mother of seven died after being shot in the back.

Prudence Amoussou became a symbol of those protests, and her sister Léocadie Cakpo recently told the BBC: "I am deeply hurt in my heart. I don't know when I will recover from this. She was my only sister."

Presidential in Benin: At least one bale death during protests against power

 Presidential in Benin: At least one bale death during protests against power © provided by point to u less a person was killed by bullet and six wounded Thursday at Benin during an intervention of The army to disperse protest protests against the absence of the opposition to the Sunday presidential election. "We received a case of bale deaths and six balers," said AFP José Godjo, the director of the Bonus clinic, a district of the city of Savè, in the center of Benin .

Ten Democratic presidential hopefuls have clashed in a televised US debate that laid bare the party' s deep divisions over how best to win in 2020. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, the most liberal candidates in the crowded field, came under attack from their more moderate colleagues. Ten more Democrats , including Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, debate on Wednesday. The winner of the Democratic presidential nomination will be announced next July at the party convention. The presidential election will take place months later, in November 2020.

They're all Democrats , but they see things very, very differently. Their fights will continue playing out through the Democratic primary and into the 2020 presidential campaign. "A small group politicians put their own narrow political interests above their community the state' s economic future and the best interests of the people of this state," he said in a statement, promising to hold accountable the New York State Senate, which is controlled by his fellow Democrats , some of whom had turned on the deal.

What's at stake for Benin?

Benin was in the vanguard of a new wave of multiparty democracy which spread across the continent 30 years ago.

map © BBC

Those polls in 1991 saw Benin's former President Mathieu Kérékou become the first West African leader to admit defeat in an election.

Since then Benin had been regarded as a democratic model with several African nations replicating its reconciliation body, the National Conference of Active Forces of the Nation.

But this reputation soured in 2019 when new electoral laws meant a political party had to pay about $424,000 (£328,000) to field a list for the 83-seat parliament. That year saw a record low voter turnout.

Benin's parliament is currently completely controlled by the government, our reporter says, and the opposition say that their main representatives have been prevented from taking part in these latest polls, including constitutional lawyer Joël Aïvo.

"In five years, President Talon's so-called political reforms have squandered the legacy of the National Conference. Benin no longer knows how to organise elections," he told the BBC.

The government says the opposition is represented and the democratic system is working.

In reference to the president breaking his promise to leave office after a single term, Mr Talon's communication advisor Wilfried Houngbedji told AFP that "he came to power with a touch of evangelism" but later "became more realistic".

Who else was ruled out of the race?

  • Sébastien Ajavon - a businessman who came third in 2016's presidential election, now in exile
  • Lionel Zinsou - the former prime minister was accused of campaign overspends then barred from running for office for four years
  • Léhady Soglo - ex-Cotonou mayor and son of a former president, now living in exile and sentenced in absentia to 10 years in jail for "abuse of office"
  • Reckya Madougou - presidential candidate for The Democrats party, accused of terrorism

Benin's president re-elected, with main opponents sidelined .
Benin's President Patrice Talon was easily re-elected to a second term, provisional results showed Tuesday, after a weekend ballot critics said was already stacked in his favour following a crackdown on his opponents. Talon won 86.3% of the vote, the electoral commission said as it announced preliminary results, while his opponents Alassane Soumanou and Corentin Kohoue got 11.29% and 2.25% respectively. Benin's constitutional court must verify the final tally.Three international observer missions already noted low turnout, though they said the vote generally went ahead peacefully despite tensions and protests before the ballot that left two people dead.

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