Thursday 22 March 2018

Benin: Govt seeks to lift immunity of opposition figures

Benin: Govt seeks to lift immunity of opposition figures
(AFP (eng) 02/19/18)

Benin's government is looking to bring court proceedings against the country's former finance minister as well as two opposition lawmakers who were close to former president Thomas Boni Yayi, a parliamentary source told AFP on Monday.

"The request came direct to the office of the parliamentary president last Thursday," the source said. The trio are accused of "bad governance and acts of corruption", the sourced added.

Benin's parliament is currently in recess and does not resume until mid-April.

It will then look at whether to remove the immunity of Valentin Djenontin and Idrissou Bako, who are both opposition members of parliament and close to Boni Yayi.

Former finance minister Komi Koutché, who is vying to become head of parliament, is also targeted.

Their alleged crimes are said to have been committed while they held office under the previous administration, according to President Patrice Talon's government.

Revelations about the three come just days after their party's annual conference elected them to senior leadership roles.

Civil society activist Gustave Assah accused Talon's government of conducting a "witch-hunt" and trying to take action against the politicians was not a priority.

"The request to pursue the former minister Komi Koutché... cannot be anything but controversial," said one of his close allies.

The three received "no official notification", according to their entourages.

Benin's lawmakers enjoy parliamentary immunity during their time in office and there have been previous attempts to lift it.

But to date, none has been successful.

Parliament must suspend any deputy accused in a case brought by the public prosecutor.

Approval for action against a former minister requires a two-thirds majority.

Talon has strong support in the national assembly but lawmakers last April surprised many by refusing to look at one of his flagship projects -- a review of the constitution.

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