NIMD and the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA) held an interparty dialogue workshop on Benin’s institutional reforms as part of the Strategic Partnership programme with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The workshop was held on 24 and 25 January in Cotonou, Benin, and brought together representatives of the country’s main political parties, MPs and civil society representatives to discuss Benin’s upcoming institutional reforms.

The objectives

In line with the objectives of NIMD and AWEPA’s Benin programme, which include the facilitation of interparty dialogue between politicians to increase trust and build mutual relationships, the workshop aimed to create a consensus among the political parties to help find solutions to upcoming challenges. The dialogue also created a safe meeting space for the parliamentarians and political parties, where they could come together and discuss policies with their country’s best interests in mind.

More specifically, the workshop aimed to provide a platform for the political parties and MPs to:

  • Share their views on the institutional reform process, and particularly the revision of the Beninese Constitution;
  • Address the challenges and opportunities presented by the current reforms;
  • Identify the role of political parties in the process to ensure that the reforms are participative and inclusive.

An Interparty Dialogue Workshop in Benin (in French) from NIMD on Vimeo.

The topics

The workshop explored three main topic areas, each introduced by an expert in the field and then debated by the participants.

The first topic, introduced by the Chair of the Beninese Association of Constitutional Law, Prof. Joël Aivo, was the revision of the Beninese Constitution.

Prof. Aivo´s presentation aimed to consolidate the participants’ knowledge of the legislative and institutional framework surrounding political reforms in Benin, and the revision of the 1990 Constitution in particular.

Prof. Victor P. Topanou, Former Minister of Justice, Legislation and Human Rights, then addressed the challenges and opportunities presented by the current political party reforms in Benin.

Prof. Topanou placed a special focus on the current party system in Benin, and the challenges that political parties face, especially with regard to making their voices heard in the reform process.

Dr. Nathanièl H. Kitti, Deputy Head of the Department of Political Science of the National University of Benin, then took the floor to present the role of political parties towards participative and inclusive reforms.

Finally, as part of a visiting Kenyan delegation, Hon. Adam Bagoudou presented the experience of his country and the work of NIMD’s implementing partner, the Centre for Multiparty Democracy in Kenya.

Lively debates on the issues followed the presentations, and provided a valuable opportunity for participants to dialogue, and express their concerns and expectations.

Further reading (in French)

This activity is part of the ‘Lobby and Advocacy’ programme of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is implemented in cooperation with AWEPA. More on the Strategic Partnership with the Ministry here.

A delegation from NIMD and the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA) travelled to Ethiopia to sign Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) – a type of formal agreement outlining the terms and details of their collaboration in a new programme in Ethiopia, launched in January 2017.

The organizations signed MoUs with the House of Peoples’ Representatives and the Oromia Regional State Parliament, known as Caffee Oromia. These were the culmination of several months of consultation between the NIMD-AWEPA consortium and the two legislatures.

A third MoU, with the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), is in the final stages of completion and is expected to be signed soon.

The three agreements form part of a more comprehensive programme which, in the framework of the NIMD-AWEPA Strategic Partnership with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will aim to contribute to the consolidation of democracy in Ethiopia.

NIMD, AWEPA and the Embassy at the signing of the MoU with the Caffee.

The programme will be carried out in cooperation with the third partner in the Strategic Partnership in Ethiopia, the Netherlands Embassy in Addis, also represented in the signing ceremonies. The partners will work with both political parties and parliaments to build capacities and promote dialogue.

To this end, the partnership will work at two levels: national and regional. At the federal level, it will provide support to the House of People’s Representatives, NEBE, and Ethiopian political parties. At the regional level, it will provide support to regional legislatures and political parties. While the consortium is working with one regional parliament in the initial phase, it is hoped that the programme will expand to other regions in the future

The MoU with the House of People’s Representatives was signed on 25 January. The Speaker of the House, Hon. Abadula Gemada, thanked NIMD, AWEPA and the Embassy, and assured the organizations of the House’s continued support and cooperation in the spirit of partnership.

Hon. Abadula Gemada addresses the consortium.

At the signing of the MoU with the Caffee, the Speaker of the House, Hon. Eshetu Dessie, noted that the Caffee still faces many institutional challenges and expressed hope that the programme would be able to help fill some of the capacity challenges.

At both signing ceremonies, Dutch MP and former State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ben Knapen, in his capacity as advisor to the NIMD-AWEPA consortium, thanked each of the speakers and their staff for their warm reception, cooperation and willingness to partner with the consortium.

He assured them of the continued support of the consortium and expressed the anticipation felt by both organizations to begin working with their respective houses.

Hon. Ben Knapen signs the MoU with the Caffee.