Bénin-Niger Standoff Sparks Debate in Cotonou

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In the corridors of Benin’s political arena, the ongoing crisis between Benin and Niger has become a focal point of discussion. Tensions have escalated between Niamey and Porto-Novo since the ousting of President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26th, 2023.

The latest episode in the ongoing discord between Niamey and Porto-Novo revolves around Niger’s continued closure of its border with Benin. In response, Benin’s President, Patrice Talon, issued a decree on May 6, banning tankers destined to carry Nigerien oil from entering Benin’s waters. Within Benin’s political spectrum, opinions on the Niger situation vary across different camps, ranging from support to criticism, and recommendations for resolution.

Candide Azanaï, President of the “Restoring Hope” party, underscores the foundational principles of international relations: non-interference and non-intervention. Meanwhile, former head of state Nicéphore Soglo imparted a piece of advice to President Talon through the airwaves: “In matters of business, one must never sour relations with their partner.”

The Democratic Party contends that President Talon has mishandled the crisis, labeling his approach as confrontational. In response, the parliamentary majority group, UPR, questions, “What specific wrongdoing has the government committed by condemning a coup d’état? Should we advocate for coups?” This sentiment is echoed by the pro-Talon faction, which laments the perceived lack of reciprocity despite Benin’s demonstrated goodwill.

Nevertheless, amidst the discord, all factions advocate for dialogue. Ninety-year-old Nicéphore Soglo proposes mediation through mutually trusted intermediaries and asserts his affiliation with a forum of former heads of state, including Nigerian ex-president Obasanjo, capable of facilitating reconciliation efforts.

As tensions persist between Benin and Niger, the call for dialogue remains resolute, with hopes pinned on diplomatic channels to navigate the turbulent waters of interstate relations.


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