West African leaders reportedly concerned about the political stalemate in Benin
BY LOU SIFA
According to comments broadcast on Radio France International, RFI, on 25 June by the French radio station’s correspondent in Nigeria, former and current heads of state in the West African sub-region are deeply concerned about the political stalemate in Benin and are looking for ways to restore peace via the organization of a new parliamentary election.
In the two-way exchange aired during the newscast aired on yesterday, and in reference to the relations between Nigeria and its neighbor to the east, Benin, correspondent Tunde Fatunde said that “despite the arbitrary frontiers established during the famous Berlin Conference of 1885, the authorities of these two nations show an interest in each other’s internal affairs.” This, the Nigerian correspondent of the widely-followed station in Africa said, explains why Nigerian president and chairman of the Economic Community of West African States, Muhammadu Buhari, sent none other than his vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, to Benin prior to the 28 April controversial parliamentary election to ask that the opposition parties be allowed to contest the election.
Another matter of concern among the regional leaders was the de facto house arrest former Beninese president Yayi Boni found himself in from 1 May following the violence that shook Cotonou after the controversial election. Heavily-armed security forces posted near the former president’s residence stopped every visitor, including his lawyers, doctors or even family members, from visiting him. It took a bold effort on the part of former President John Kufuor of Ghana and President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria (apparently in coordination with ECOWAS chairman Buhari and other regional leaders) for the siege of Yayi’s residence to end on 22 June, fifty days later. The sick former president whose health was deteriorating fast, flew overseas the very next day to receive medical treatment.
RFI’s Nigerian correspondent Tunde Fatunde also said during the two-way exchange broadcast yesterday that news of Yayi’s house arrest was carried by all major newspapers in Nigeria, a testament to Nigerian media’s interest in the matter. The reporter highlighted President Buhari’s commitment to making sure the stalemate—leading to violence in several parts of the country—that followed the controversial 28 April come to an end thanks to a new parliamentary election in which the entire Beninese political class would participate.