WASHINGTON, DC [19 FEB 2021] – The New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs (NYCFPA) is deeply troubled about the recent decision of the National Electoral Commission of Benin (CENA) to exclude all opposition candidates from the upcoming presidential election in Benin. It is concerning that the country’s ongoing removal of basic democratic rights will lead to another electoral crisis and civil unrest in the country, thus undermining the region’s stability and security.
This West African country, once dubbed the cradle of democracy in Africa, has experienced the fastest deterioration in political civil liberties, democratic rights and freedom of the press in Africa according to several organizations familiar with the situation.
On Friday, February 12, 2021, Benin’s ongoing democratic backsliding reached another tragic milestone when the Electoral Commission announced its exclusion of all opposition candidates from the upcoming presidential election scheduled for April. The exclusion appears to focus on Les Démocrates…the largest opposition party in the country…and their candidate, Reckya Madougou (the first female candidate of any major party in the country). We note that in addition to President Talon’s candidacy, only two other candidates are allowed to run. Unfortunately, our organization notes that these candidates are handpicked, groomed, and financed by President Talon and his party.
The dereliction of duty of the central government in Benin has single-handedly sparked another electoral crisis that could lead to civil unrest in the country if nothing is done to prevent it.
Until 2016, Benin had been regarded as one of the United States’ most stable and strategic partners in the region. It is our belief that another electoral crisis or civil unrest in the country, will empower and expand extremist groups like Boko Haram, AQMI, and ISIS, in the region. We believe that any instability of a political or civil nature will undermine the democratic ideals of the people of Benin as well as harm U.S. interests in West Africa. We must remind our allies during the darkest of times that we as a nation are willing and able to advocate alongside them in their fight for democracy.
Justin Russell, the NYCFPA’s Principal Director, states, “We expresses our most profound concern about the egregious attacks on the democratic process, the rule of law, and basic human rights in Benin. We call on President Biden, Secretary Blinken, and the United States Congress to demand that the Benin government immediately organize a national dialogue with all stakeholders in order to guarantee an inclusive, transparent, free, fair, and trustworthy election. Only a fair and free election…and the re-establishment of democratic rights… will prevent any civil unrest that could further destabilize the region.”
*Source The New York Center For Foreign Policy Affairs. The New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs (NYCFPA) is a policy, research, and educational organization headquartered in New York State with an office in Washington D.C. NYCFPA is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, institution devoted to conducting in-depth research and analysis on every aspect of American foreign policy and its impact around the world.