News / Africa

US Congratulates Benin on 50 Years of Independence

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Benin's vibrant democracy and stability make it an important U.S. ally in West Africa

Multimedia

Audio
James Butty

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has congratulated the people of Benin for the country’s 50th independence anniversary observed Sunday.

Secretary Clinton said the United States will continue working with Benin to reduce poverty and promote broad economic growth.

Benin President Boni Yayi
Benin President Boni Yayi

Meanwhile, 10 African heads of state, along with other government leaders and representatives, were said to have attended Sunday’s official 50th independence anniversary ceremonies in Cotonou.

Sadikou Alao, president of GERDDES-Africa, a research group for the democratic, economic and social development of Africa said the Benin government needs to do more to eradicate poverty and promote good governance.

“As you know, the country is very poor. The majority of people are poor even if there is some sign of development in Cotonou which is the economic capital, and in Port Novo. The rest of the country is still very poor. And, as far as poverty is concerned, and good governance, I don’t think we have made a lot of progress,” he said.

In her statement, Secretary Clinton said Benin’s vibrant democracy and stability make the country an important U.S. ally in West Africa.

GERDDES-Africa President Alao said Benin’s democracy, seen through the eyes of Westerners, should suggest progress. But, he said it is another matter when seen through the eyes of an African.

Benin election-President Yayi and his wife
Benin election-President Yayi and his wife

“As far as democracy is concerned, I think we have made a lot of progress when one is seeing it with the Western eyes. But, when we look at it as Africans, I don’t think we have made a lot of progress because, when you refer to democracy, democracy means something profitable for the majority of the people of a country. But, our democratic system does not enable us to reach a level of development which can be profitable for the majority of our people. Our democracy is a democracy for only 10 percent of our people,” Alao said.

He said the majority of Benin’s population, about 90 percent, reside in rural areas and do not enjoy the same rights as those living in urban areas.

“They are not enjoying the same facilities, as far as development is concerned. If democracy does not lead to better governance, does not relieve the poverty of the people, it means that, really, we are not making progress. We need to make a lot of change before our democracy will look like our people. This is what we should plan for (in) the coming 50 years,” he said.

In her statement, Secretary Clinton praised Benin’s “positive role” in international mediation and peacekeeping.

Alao said West Africa has come a long way given the region’s history of military coups.

“Due to our region, where we were having a lot of coup d’états, I can say that we are making of lot of progress by which we have a positive change of government, let’s say acceptable elections, don’t call it free and fair because it’s only a minority who are leading these types of elections. That’s the reason why, in any of our places after a good election, you can have a coup d’état and nobody will just get up and defend the government because everybody knows that it is a government always of a majority of this 10 percent,” Alao said.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs