Benin celebrates Independence Day; official visit to Nigeria
The Republic of Benin celebrated its 56th year of Independence on 1 August. The national celebrations offered an opportunity for the newly elected president, Patrice Talon, who has been in power since 6 April 2016, to reaffirm his electoral commitments: institutional reform, economic recovery and an new dynamic overall to boost democracy in the country. In his address to the nation, he painted a rather gloomy picture of the country’s state of development: “In the past 56 years, our country has not made much progress on the path of economic and social development”, he declared. Reaffirming the importance of national unity and his pledge to serve only one term, President Talon is planning to organise a referendum to decide on the introduction of a single presidential mandate in the Constitution. "I think I will find the right arguments to explain to our people the importance of the single presidential mandate and the benefits this will have for our country. I believe the proposal will pass." One day after the national celebration, President Talon paid a long-expected first official visit to neighbouring Nigeria. He was received by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja, together with Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé. Discussions focused on strengthening co-operation in the security and energy sectors and rejuvenating economic ties, with a particular focus on eliminating illegal cross-border trade. Benin’s economy is strongly impacted by the slowdown in economic activity in neighbouring Nigeria.