Viewpoint by Jonathan Power*

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - Even former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who single handedly (without much Jewish appreciation) did more to make Israel secure than any other living person, confesses neither he nor anyone can change the march of demographics. Within the boundaries of the Holy Land there are just over 6 million Jews and 6 million Palestinians. The Palestinian birth rate is almost three times that of the Israeli Jews. If anything the Jewish population is starting to fall as an increasing number of Jews decide that Israel has no future for them and emigrate. 

Another former U.S. President, Richard Nixon, when asked by Patrick Buchanan how he saw the future of Israel, turned down his thumb "like a Roman emperor at the gladiators' arena".

- Photo: 2021

Arrest of Popular Benin Leader Evokes Protests of Lawyers for Democratic Opposition

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK (IDN) — Reckya Madougou, one of the strongest challengers to Benin’s autocratic leader, Patrice Talon, will be observing the next election from her cell in jail. The 47-year-old activist was found guilty of conspiring to assassinate political figures and sentenced to 20 years behind bars.

Madougou was the head of the party Les Démocrates and had been the face of “Don’t touch my constitution!”—a civil society campaign that rallied against leaders seeking to extend their reign under the guise of constitutional reform.

The movement spread across West Africa. Supporters say she could have been Benin’s first female presidential candidate from a major party.

But Madougou’s historic bid for the presidency ended abruptly when security agents arrested her after a rally protesting the president’s controversial electoral reforms.

Madougou was one of several Benin opposition leaders banned from running in an election in April in which Talon won a second term with 86 percent of the vote.

Critics say Talon, one of the richest men in Francophone Africa today, has eliminated almost all possibility of legitimate opposition. The judiciary’s independence has evaporated. Talon’s former personal lawyer became president of Benin’s Constitutional Court.

A new judicial body, the Economic Crime and Terrorism Court, or Criet, has targeted Talon’s political rivals. After the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights repeatedly ruled against his administration’s policies, Talon’s government prevented the court from hearing cases brought against him by individuals and nongovernmental organizations

“The arbitrary arrest of opponents has led to the degradation of democracy in Benin,” said Oumar Ndongo, academic director of the African Center for Strategic Intelligence in Dakar, Senegal.

“There was no justice,” said Essowe Batamoussi, the judge who fled Benin and has applied for asylum in France, in an interview with the Washington Post. “We received an empty file and a threat: If we did not put her in jail, we were in danger.”

Benin was long praised for its thriving multi-party democracy in a troubled region. But critics say the West African state’s democracy has steadily eroded under Talon, a 63-year-old cotton magnate first elected in 2016.

“It’s a sad day for our justice system,” one of her lawyers, Robert Dossou, told the AFP news service. “I maintain there is no proof.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 14 December 2021]

Photo: Supporters of Reckya Madougou gathered outside the court in Porto-Novo when the trial began. Credit: AFP

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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