AWEPA – NIMD Strategic Cooperation in Benin
Cotonou, 6-8 February 2013 – Political actors in Benin, members of the Steering Committee established last October, met recently in Cotonou to bring forward the cooperation programme with AWEPA and NIMD. This programme has the objective of supporting the consolidation of a pluralistic democratic society in Benin, through a participatory decision-making process grounded on a solid multi-party system and the work of a strong parliament. Specifically the programme aims at strengthening political dialogue on issues of national priority, reinforcing the capacity of political parties and the parliament and building stronger ties between the political sphere, civil society and citizens to ensure greater legitimation and adequate representation of people’s interests.
The programme’s multiparty approach is reflected in the composition of the Steering Committee, which includes representatives of all political forces and main political parties represented in parliament. Alongside members of Benin’s majority coalition, Force Cauris pour un Benin Emergeant (FCBE), sit the key representatives of the main opposition bloc Union fait la Nation(UN), as well as representatives of the Parti du Renouveau Démocratique (PRD) and independent party Renaissance du Bénin (RB). The high level representation in the Steering group with the five chairmen of the permanent parliamentary committees – finance, law, plan, external relations and education – ensures the link with key development challenges the country faces. In the course of the meeting, Steering Committee members decided to create a sub-committee of 5 members to serve the operational arm of the broader group.
The meeting served the purpose of assessing programme progress so far, further defining the role of the committee itself and debating a draft activity plan for 2013 including its expected results. There was consensus among participants, both from majority and opposition, that democratic reform is much needed in Benin and existing political and governance challenges are to be tackled in a constructive climate of dialogue. In line with the objectives of the programme some key activities were envisaged such as the organization of a seminar on Benin’s public investment policy, citizen consultations on the implementation of development projects, a workshop on Benin’s governance challenges (in particular the functioning of the National Assembly and the political party system) and a training for MPs and party leaders on budgetary analysis and oversight. Analytical work on political parties and the party-parliament nexus are also planned, in preparation for the launch of democracy training modules for young leaders. The constituted Steering Committee of five members convened in a follow-up session on February 11th to finalise the activity plan 2013.