The Chairman of the Alliance for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (ASDA), Dr Prosper Ladislas Agbesi, has called on the leadership of the ECOWAS Sub-region and the international community to step into the political situation in Benin and bring order in the interest of the people.
To this end, he suggested the establishment of a government of National Unity so as to return the country to true democracy.
Dr. Agbesi – a leading opposition political figure and the presidential Candidate of the Alliance for New Congress (ANC) in the 2016 elections told journalists in an interview that, President Patrice Tolon, has failed the people and so must step aside for new elections to bring the country back its former glory.
He has given the incumbent president up to 90 days to resign because the people of Benin have demonstrated clearly that they do not want him as their president. He said security has failed in the country and businesses are suffering, coupled with the rising bad image of the country internationally, are good reasons for any president who truly cares for his people to take a decent bow for a more competent person to take over and help the people.
“He has been a president for only three years but the people have demonstrated clearly that they are not comfortable with him. By the constitution of Benin, he is not our president. He is creating fear in the country. Many people have gone on exile because they are in fear,” he stated.
Dr. Agbesi was at pain that a country which was once seen as a leading democracy in Africa could be reduced to an almost one party state, where opposition parties do not have a representation even in parliament. He said there are evidence that President Patrice Tolon has become very unpopular in the country, for which reason he is making moves to change the constitution through strange and unconventional means.
About a month to the recent parliamentary elections in Benin, the Electoral Commission of that country promulgated a new law that disqualified all other political parties excerpt the President’s party. This led to huge apathy with only a fraction of the people turning up to vote on the Election Day.
The electoral authorities ruled in March that only two parties - both loyal to President Patrice Talon - met the requirements to take part. New electoral laws meant a party had to pay about $424,000 (£328,000) to field a list for the 83-seat parliament.
“So we are saying that you can’t have a country that excludes the opposition in decision making. Less than 10 percent of the population voted in the parliamentary elections and so it is not a representation of the people,” he stated.
Dr Ladislas Prosper Agbesi, Executive Chairman, Pan African Business Forum
According to Dr Agbesi, for causing the abuse of the democratic rights of the people of Benin, President Tolon must resign from office immediately. He called on the ECOWAS not to recognise him as the President of Benin. He also urged the formation of a government of unity which would include all leading political figures who have gone on exile because of intimidation from President Tolon.
“I want ECOWAS, the African Union and the United Nations to take serious sanctions against this man. I am giving him 90 days to resign. I want the EU to take serious actions against him because the people are not happy with him,” Dr. Agbesi stated.
Among others, Dr Agbesi accused President Tolon of being in an alliance with terrorists groups in the sub-region, which according to him is one of the reasons he does not want to leave the country.
“He wants to bring the terrorists to come for our oil. If we don’t take the country away from him, Benin will soon become a centre of terrorists. The international community must do something quickly to take the country away from him. It is very important for the UN and ECOWAS to do something quickly before it becomes worse. “We don’t want our country to become a base for terrorists and that is what this man wants to do. That is why we have to take the country from him now,” he stated.
Benin has witnessed post-election violence in recent times with a group of armed soldiers in an uneasy standoff with unarmed civilians on the streets of the capital – Cotonou. Security forces have been put on high alert following days of post-election violence.
This was after the parliamentary election that took place in April this year but without any of the opposition parties contesting. Military men allegedly scattered demonstrations when the members of the opposition called for the annulment of the parliamentary election.