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BENIN IS SIXTY YEARS OLD BUT IN A CUL-DE-SAC

August 1, 2020

By Omar Arouna, MBA *

Omar Arouna is a former Ambassador of Benin to the USA

A cul-de-sac, also called, a dead end, is a passage with only one entrance or exit. In the game of chess, deadlock is a situation where the player whose turn it is to move has no legal movement.

Here, dead end is in reference to the context in which further resolution or action seems very difficult or unlikely to all. It is therefore clear on this day when we are celebrating sixty years of independence that we are at an impasse in Benin, in a cul-de-sac, socio-economic and political from all points of view.

Socio-economically, even if we will now be referred to as “lower middle-income countries” (after the tampering of economic “rebasing”) or “asphalting”, make no mistake about it; poverty remains rampant.

Frantic and recurring borrowing, all-out impositions and taxes, massive layoffs, frequent business closings, unemployed by the thousands, a tangential education system, the closure of borders with the wealthy neighbor to the east, the drastic decline in port traffic, purges within the army, the drop in the global cost of cotton, diplomatic isolation, embarrassment, denial of justice, flight of capital, the inability to provide social support for COVID-19, What else do I know … are warning signs of a dead end socio-economic situation, a cul-de-sac.

At the political level, the observation is clear. The country cannot move forward or make progress since the exclusion that led to the electoral crisis of May 2019 where several children of Benin have died, the population is paralyzed.

Crisogenic laws, a non-consensual constitution, an illegitimate national assembly, Non-elected municipal officials, institutions without credibility, exiles, resistance fighters, opponents,  fake opponents, supporters, fake supporters, candidates without godfathers, godfathers without candidates; an elusive presidential election … so many obvious signs of a muddy political context where no progress can be made due to fundamental disagreement. In short, it is a dead end, a cul-de-sac.

It’s hard not to yell “is there an adult in the house Benin, to talk to the head of state?” ; make him understand the alarming socio-economic context and above all explain to him that this provincial notion of development, which would exist absent of a democratic order or at odds with freedoms and human rights, is ludicrous and without merit. “Is there an adult in the house Benin to remind the Head of State” if the dream is still to be “carried in triumph at the end of his first and only term therefore  as in a dead end, a cul-de-sac,  he will have to turn around because the way out is the same as the way in… the restoration of democratic and republican order.

* Ambassador Arouna, MBA is Managing Partner at USAFCG, Founder and CEO of Global Specialty (GSL), Former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Benin to the United States of America, and Representative of Benin to Mexico and to the Organization of the American states. He is a recognized expert on private sector investment in Africa, government relations, and US-Africa relations.

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