Thursday, March 22, 2007

Periscoping Benin (2)

With a couple of days before the 5th legislative elections in Benin is held, candidates have resorted to grassroots close-door strategy. The fanfare and motorized carnival that characterised the first week of the campaigns have completely disappeared. Though president Boni Yayi came onboard as an independent, some group of political parties have formed a coalition to carry his banner of 'change' which has since become a household slogan in the country.
This campaign of proximity has seen every available hotel and restaurant within the city fully booked. The most catchment targets are the youths, market women and housewives. This has to be the case because business activities seem to have grinded to a halt owing mainly to diversion of attention to politicking to the detriment of business preoccupations. This situation is compounded by the incessant power outages which ironically appears to many to be the only visible evidence of the regime of 'change'.
With the election of a new National Electoral Commission Chairman in the person of Eugene Capa CHICHI , there is renewed hope of conducting the election of the 83 Deputies as scheduled, because he has pledged to ensure that the voters' lists which had been confiscated by some Commission representatives will promptly be retrieved to facilitate planning.
One factor which is most likely to fool the candidates concerning the huge turnout at their campaign meetings is that success at the polls cannot be measured by these numbers because most of them come not to listen to manifestos but for the stipend and snacks that are distributed during such gatherings.
Preponderant majority of the contestants come from the old brigade of politicians who had contested during the 2006 presidential elections and failed, but have found it not derogatory to condescend to vying for a seat within the 83-member Parliament. The desperation to stay within the corridors of power is apparent among this group judging from the amount of resources they seem to pull together against the meagre input of the greener candidates. Needless to say, generally the campaign has been peaceful and orderly, typical of Benin culture of modesty and decency.

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