On Saturday 16 January 2021, the Progressive Union, one of the two major political parties set up by the President of Benin, Patrice Talon, officially authorised its elected representatives to sponsor opposition candidates for the April 2021 presidential election. This decision, which was supposed to please the opposition, has led to hostile reactions from its leaders, in this case those of the party « Les Démocrates ».
« The Political Bureau of the Progressive Union gives a mandate to the National Executive Directorate to invite deputies and mayors elected on the lists of the Progressive Union to sponsor for the posts of President of the Republic and Vice-President of the Republic, any candidate supported by a political party with a legal existence ». This is the substance of the statement read by Antoine Kolawolé Idji, one of the leaders of the Progressive Union, at the end of the meeting of the party’s extended political bureau on Saturday, January 16, 2021.
Such a decision taken by the largest party of the presidential movement should relieve the opposition for whom the introduction of the sponsorship system in the new electoral code is a ploy to remove it from the electoral game. However, the last part of the communiqué (« any candidate supported by a political party with a legal existence introduces a restriction ») introduces a restriction that is not at all appreciated by the leaders of the Beninese opposition.
On Monday, Nourénou Atchadé, vice-president of the party of the former President, Boni Yayi, « The Democrats », counter-attacks the Progressive Union by saying that « this request is part of a dramatization, a decoy, a ruse », for two reasons: « One, no law requires that the candidate for a presidential election in Benin is from a political party. Two, President Patrice Talon alone has two political formations and is not identified with either one ».
And the former MP concluded that the decision of the Progressive Union « is a way of sponsoring the candidates who will accompany President Patrice Talon in an election where he is the only candidate ». This position of the Democrats is shared by the leaders of the Liberal Social Union (USL), a party without legal existence to date, therefore excluded from the political game as conceived by the presidential camp. While the honorary president of the USL, businessman Sebastien Ajavon, does not hide his ambition to run for the next presidential election.
To be continued.