A high-level delegation of the ECOWAS Commission led by Vice President Mrs Finda Koroma, has met with the Benin Republic, President Patrice Talon and other key political stakeholders ahead of the country’s 28 April 2019 legislative elections.
The pre-election mission, which included Gen. Francis Behanzin, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, and Ambassador Mohamed Diakite, ECOWAS Permanent Representative to Burkina Faso, also held talks with the leadership of the Benin Constitutional Court, the Independent Electoral Commission, CENA, the Ministers of Economy and Finance, and Justice, and two of the country’s former Heads of State, Nicephore Soglo and Boni Yayi.
Gen. Behanzin explained that the March 3-6 visit, which is consistent with ECOWAS’ support to Member States holding elections under the supplementary protocol on democracy and good governance “is for the evaluation of the political situation” in the country.
Benin Republic, with an estimated population of 10 million people has an 83-seat unicameral Parliament elected under a party-list proportional representation system.
The mandate of the out-going parliament expires on 15th May this year and some opposition parties have raised lingering issues arising from an electoral code introduced in July 2018 which saw the creation of an electoral threshold of 10% of the national vote to enter parliament.
The deposit required for a parliamentary list has also been increased under a reform aimed at reducing the number of political parties in the country, which numbered around 200 at a stage.
The Vice President reiterated the expectation of the Commission to see a peaceful and transparent electoral process that will result in the emergence of patriotic leaders.
Incumbent President Talon was elected in 2016 for a five-year renewable mandate and the next presidential election is due in 2020.
The aim of the ECOWAS delegation, which also included Mr Francis Oke, Head of the Electoral Assistance Division, was to ensure a conducive atmosphere for peaceful polls with integrity towards the consolidation of democracy and good governance in the country and the ECOWAS region at large.