Country Report Benin April 2008

Outlook for 2008-09: Domestic politics

The presidential coalition, Force cauris pour un Bénin émergent (FCBE), won the largest number of seats (35 out of 83) in the National Assembly in the March 2007 legislative election, confirming the popularity of the president, Boni Yayi, and the decline of the main traditional parties. Following the poll Mr Yayi successfully negotiated a pro-government parliamentary majority, with seven minor parties and coalitions joining the FCBE. This, coupled with the appointment of a new cabinet of technocrats in June and a minor technical reshuffle in November, has strengthened the president's position further and is expected to facilitate the implementation of his ambitious economic reform programme, although the timetable of privatisations in 2008-09 has been called into question, owing to financial irregularities. The victory of Mr Yayi's alliance should allow him to take measures to improve governance by stepping up the fight against corruption and strengthening the independence of the judiciary. However, protests by both opposition and alliance members make it likely that Mr Yayi will have to concede more to those parties in order to push through his reform programme.

Over the forecast period Mr Yayi will be intent on cementing his good relations with the local and regional business community and foreign governments, while also seeking to reform state institutions through constitutional reform and the extension of decentralisation, notably through the transfer of financial resources to local authorities. In this regard local elections, delayed once again and now scheduled for April 20th 2008, will be of political importance, in particular for the main traditional parties, which have been excluded from the government, as they are seen as vital to accessing political power on the national scale.

© 2008 The Economist lntelligence Unit Ltd. All rights reserved
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