CW 15/2021: Re-election and re-positioning
Press Review 10 April 2021 to 16 April 2021

Benin’s president re-elected for a second term 

In Benin’s presidential elections last Sunday, incumbent Patrice Talon was unsurprisingly re-elected for a second term. On Tuesday evening, the electoral commission announced his victory with 86% of the vote; the turnout was 50.17%. His challengers Alassane Soumanou and Corentin Kohoue got 11.29% and 2.25% of the vote respectively. The results of the election, overshadowed by allegations of fraud, were upheld by Benin’s Constitutional Court on Thursday. The vote was marked by the boycott of the main opposition parties. Numerous members of the opposition had fled into exile, while others had been barred from voting under a new electoral law introduced by Talon. Election observers also reported targeted voter interference throughout the country. The lack of a credible opposition sparked protests in the run-up to the election. Major roads were blocked by protesters, paralysing traffic between the north and south of the country and causing delays in the delivery of election documents. The protests were broken up by police violence, leaving two people dead. The re-elected president condemned the protests and announced that he would identify and punish those responsible. Despite the tensions in the run-up to the election, the election was largely peaceful, according to international election observation missions. Progress in expanding electricity and basic services was praised by supporters of Talon, who was first elected in 2016, while critics accused him of systematically targeting the opposition. Once known as a multi-party democracy, the West African country, which is a member of the G20- Initiative Compact with Africa, has taken an increasingly authoritarian path since Talon took office, critics warn.

New government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Four months after President Félix Tshisekedi dissolved the coalition with the Front Commun pour le Congo (FCC) led by his predecessor Joseph Kabila, the new government of the Democratic Republic of Congo was unveiled on Monday. With 57 members, the Sacred Union of the Nation is smaller than the previous government and has a significantly higher proportion of women. Important personalities of the anti-Kabila opposition now occupy key positions. For example, Christophe Lutundula, who himself tried to challenge Kabila in 2018, holds the office of Foreign Minister. Eve Bazaiba, who also heads the Ministry for the Environment and Sustainable Development and criticized Tshisekedi’s election victory in 2018, was appointed as the new Vice President. The formation of the new cabinet means a strengthening of Tshisekedi and a final break with former President Kabila. The dispute between the two presidents culminated in a vote of no confidence and the resignation of Kabila-loyal Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba after a month-long power struggle. Tshisekedi appointed the head of the state-owned mining giant Gecamines, Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde Kyenge, as the new Prime Minister. Tshisekedi has been trying for a long time to reduce his predecessor’s influence in parliament: Because of the majority of forces in parliament loyal to Kabila, his political course has been heavily dependent on the approval of the former president. Despite his resignation in 2019, Kabila had retained control of important ministries. The new government now faces enormous challenges; these include in particular the conflict in the east of the country, which has been going on for almost three decades, and the fight against corruption. Prime Minister Lukonde identified security, health, education and justice as the Sacred Union of the Nation‘s priorities.

In other news

The social network “Twitter” is on course for expansion. The CEO of the U.S. Internet company Jack Dorsey announced on Monday that the first Twitter headquarters on the African continent will be located in the Ghanaian capital Accra. In a brief statement, Twitter named reasons why the Westafrican  country was the right choice for an African location, saying Ghana clearly takes a stand for democracy, free expression and a free Internet. These values align with those of the social network, it says. In addition, Ghana’s recent appointment as host of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat played an important role, because it supports Twitter’s efforts to expand its service across the continent. So far, the internet company has advertised twelve new positions to strengthen its Ghanaian team. These include a senior communications manager, a senior content partnerships manager and a media operations analyst.

 

 

 

 

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