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Benin’s defence minister quits over constitutional reform

Cotonou, Benin | AFP | Benin’s defence minister announced his resignation on Monday to protest President Patrice Talon’s plans to overhaul the constitution.

Candide Armand-Marie Azannai wrote on his Facebook page that he had decided to quit because of “recent developments in this country’s politics”.

Businessman Talon, who was elected last year, has proposed amending the constitution to limit presidents to a single term of office in the tiny West African nation, which is dwarfed by its giant neighbour Nigeria to the east. They can currently serve a maximum of two.

Such a measure, if passed, would be in direct contrast to a number of other African countries where leaders have sought to remain in power at all costs.

But Talon’s critics, some of whom have taken to the streets to protest, point out that single-term presidencies were open to abuse, as the president would not have to court the favour of voters at the end of his term.

The president has summoned the national assembly for an extraordinary session to vote on the issue, which is one of 43 changes he has proposed to the 160-article constitution.

Talon, who has not commented on Azannai’s resignation, also wants to set a cap on political party funding and promote positive discrimination for women in politics.

The president has widespread support in parliament. Any change in the constitution needs the approval of 4/5ths of the national assembly.

 

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