Legal Challenges Mount Against Benin’s New Electoral Code

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
2 Min Read

A week ago, the ruling majority in parliament made changes to the election code that have drawn harsh criticism from all quarters. Once called a “text of exclusion” by critics, the updated code is currently facing three legal challenges before the nation’s courts: two from “Les Démocrates”, the opposition party, and one from a group of legal experts.

All three petitions seek to declare the changed electoral legislation “contrary to the Constitution.” A group of five legal scholars filed the initial appeal, with Landry Angelo Adélakou, a member of the group, claiming worries that the section on political endorsements violates basic law. To buttress his argument, he cites a previous Constitutional Court case.

“The act of endorsement entails a unilateral commitment to support a presidential candidate, and elected officials have the freedom to endorse candidates of their choice,” he contends.

The “Démocrates” party filed two additional appeals on Monday, March 11th. Guy Mitokpè, the party’s communications director, points out a fundamental anomaly: the majority of legislators exceeded the court’s jurisdiction.

“The Court had instructed the National Assembly to restore equal endorsement powers. However, by going beyond this provision, the majority violates the authority of the final judgment. Furthermore, the inclusion of governance coalitions is now at issue, which, for us, represents a breach of the Constitution prohibiting political alliances,” Mitokpè reports.

The other opposition party, FCBE, asserts that the amended code exacerbates exclusionary practices. As the law has not yet been promulgated due to the pending legal challenges, former president of the Constitutional Court, Robert Dossou, explains that the next steps involve the review of the appeals and the decision of the justices.

These legal maneuvers underscore the ongoing debate over electoral reforms in Benin, highlighting the complexities of balancing constitutional principles with political interests.


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