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Benin President Patrice Talon addresses the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, Sept. 22, 2016 (AP photo by Richard Drew).

Why Benin’s Lawmakers Killed a Plan to Give Presidents Only One Term

Thursday, April 6, 2017

When he was sworn in as Benin’s president a year ago today, Patrice Talon, a business mogul known as the “king of cotton,” vowed to serve only one term and said he would try to enshrine that limit into law. On a continent where multiple presidents, from Burundi to Burkina Faso and beyond, have attempted with varying success to circumvent constitutionally imposed term limits in recent years, Talon’s promise—and his warnings about the complacency of long-serving leaders—set him apart as someone with potentially stronger democratic credentials.

This week, however, Talon’s ability to make good on that promise was dealt a severe, potentially fatal blow by Benin’s lawmakers. On Tuesday, they narrowly rejected a series of proposed constitutional revisions that included restricting a president’s time in power from two five-year terms to one six-year term. The revisions, which Talon submitted to the National Assembly on March 15, also addressed public financing for political parties and a restructuring of the Constitutional Court and High Court of Justice. In all, 60 lawmakers endorsed a proposal to examine the revisions on the merits, while 22 voted against and one abstained. Talon needed the support of three-quarters of the assembly—or 63 lawmakers—for the proposal to move forward and eventually be put to a referendum. ...

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