Advertisement

Bishops in Benin Encourage “open dialogue” Ahead of Presidential Election

Members of the Episcopal Conference of Benin (CEB)

Ahead of the April 2021 Presidential poll in Benin, Catholic Bishops in the West African country are calling on politicians and the leadership of institutions organizing the election to engage in an open dialogue for a peaceful, inclusive, democratic and transparent election.

In a statement availed to ACI Africa Wednesday, January 27, members of the Episcopal Conference of Benin (CEB) “strongly recommend that all political parties and institutions involved in the organization of the said elections engage in open dialogue in view of a peaceful, truly inclusive, democratic and transparent presidential election.” 

The Bishops highlight “the growing differences between the political players in the race, the electoral calendar and sponsorships” as some of the factors that might cause instability in Benin.

In November 2019, members of Parliament in Benin passed a new electoral law that requires aspiring presidential candidates and their running mates (vice-president) to have the sponsorship of at least 10 percent of the mayors or their deputies before vying for the political seats.

However, the Beninese parliament is made up of deputies who are from the President’s political party, which jeopardizes the pluralism of presidential candidates.

Advertisement

Three Beninese citizens reached out to the country’s Constitutional Court asking for the abolition of the sponsorship system. On January 8, the Court declared that it does not have the competence to deal with the issue. 

In December, Catholic Bishops in the country called on the government to abolish the electoral law because Members of Parliament passed “non-consensual interpretative laws … which led to the appointment of many Mayors of the same political persuasion, (it will make) the fair and equitable application of sponsorship complex.”

In the January 22 statement issued at the end of their Ordinary Plenary Session for the pastoral year 2020-2021, the Bishops insist on the need for peace saying, “At stake is the image of our country on the international scene and above all the preservation of social peace without which the development efforts that have been started would be compromised.” 

The Bishops invite the people of God in the country to “fast and to pray urgently for peace and cohesion among the sons and daughters of Benin.”

Meanwhile, the members of CEB have also decried increased noise pollution in the neighborhoods of the country's towns and villages and called on the authorities to enforce the relevant legislation.

More in Africa

They invite the people of God in the country “to become collectively aware of the harmful consequences of this scourge on their well-being.” 

Referencing St. Francis de Sales whose feast day was January 24, the Church leaders say, “Noise does not do any good and good does not come out of noise.”

Further, the Catholic Bishops express their concerns about an upsurge in traffic accidents, which “cause significant material damage but also loss of human life plunging families into mourning and distress.”

CEB members call on all drivers in the country to “strictly adhere to the Highway Code in order to preserve their lives and those of other road users.”