Benin: New Electoral Code Approved by Constitutional Court

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The Constitutional Court of Benin upheld the electoral code amended on March 5th, 2024, by the deputies of the Talon camp. This code was immediately challenged before the state’s highest jurisdiction. More than a dozen appeals were submitted to the constitutional judge by the opposition and a collective of five jurists.

“The code voted on is by the Constitution in all its provisions,” ruled the wise men of the Constitutional Court of Benin on Thursday. Eric Houndété of the Democrats party immediately reacted, stating, “The decision is fraudulent, it is not dignified, it’s a pity. They didn’t read the text. They hurried to satisfy their sponsor… It’s the code of shame.”

Wilfried Houngbedji, government spokesperson present at the hearing, responded that “the law was pronounced publicly and in a contradictory manner, the procedure was transparent and regular. The democratic attitude is to take note.”

In a ruling of about twenty pages, the Constitutional Court elaborates on its rejections. The wise men argue that the freedom of endorsements is not abolished and that the eligibility threshold does not violate any provision. The same goes for the creation of new polling stations by the National Electoral Commission (Cena) and governance agreements between parties.

Me Victorin Fadé, the lawyer of the opposition party, describes the law as follows: “This law is even more crises-generating than the one voted on in 2019.” Wilfrid Houngbedji, for whom the code applies to all camps, considers this statement false: “The new provisions apply to all parties. The two parties that support the government as much as the opposition party, none of them fill the seats, which means all these parties start on an equal footing.”

Patrice Talon can now enact the code; the court’s decisions are endowed with executive force. “We will comply with it; we are in a state of law. I fear that other Beninese will attack the law again,” says Me Fadé.

This development underscores the complex dynamics of legal and political processes in Benin, highlighting ongoing debates over electoral regulations and their implications for democratic governance.


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