National dialogue: President Patrice Talon’s opening speech

The political dialogue effectively began on Thursday, 10 October 2019 with the opening speech of the President, Patrice Talon. It was with words of satisfaction and recognition that the Head of State addressed those who responded to his invitation. Following the welcome words, the President of the Republic set the scene with the purpose of today’s meeting.

According to him, the political dialogue that starts today is a check-up to react to an unusual coughing spell. “Our meeting today, far from being a sign of any stress in our democracy, is, in my opinion, similar to a check-up requirement when a coughing attack of unusual resonance occurs,” he said. He then discussed what caused the crisis. “Our partisan system had become harmful to our country, like a nail in the toe. Should it be cut with courage in pain or should nothing be done to the indefinite prejudice of well-being?  But when these laws were implemented, he continued, “we tore each other apart to the point of compromising our cohesion. We, the political actors, have sown doubt, mistrust and mistrust in the minds of our fellow citizens in our own regard,” he noted before announcing the purpose of the meeting. “It therefore now seems appropriate for political actors to meet to assess their application, reflect and discuss possible adaptations to be made with a view to a better and realistic organisation of the political space and political competition, allowing the strengthening of national unity and concord, while preserving the essential consolidation of political practices,” he said.

Finally, he expressed the wish that the conclusions would provide appropriate responses to the crisis for the return to national cohesion. Read below the full text of his speech;

Talon’s opening speech:

  • Presidents of the Institutions,
    Distinguished members of the Government,
    Ladies and gentlemen, of political parties leaders ,
    Distinguished Delegates to the Political Dialogue,
    Distinguished guests,

    Allow me to express to each of you, on behalf of the entire Republic, my satisfaction and gratitude for your presence, which testifies to your love and availability for our dear country.

    Our meeting today, far from being a sign of any stress in our democracy, is, in my opinion, similar to a check-up requirement when a coughing attack of an unusual resonance occurs.

    Ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen,

    Our partisan system had become harmful to our country, like a nail in the toe.

    Should it be cut with courage in pain or should nothing be done to the undefined damage to well-being?

    With honour and responsibility, the 7th legislature of our country defeated the fatality by reforming our partisan system by voting almost unanimously by its deputies of all tendencies, a new charter of political parties and a new electoral code to meet our unanimous need for sanitation.

    In the implementation of these laws, ladies and gentlemen, we have torn ourselves apart to the point of compromising our cohesion.

    We, the political actors, have sown doubt, mistrust and mistrust in the minds of our fellow citizens in our own regard.

    If the events of April, May and June did not call into question the democratic process of our country, let alone its republican edifice, they will nevertheless have revealed a certain inadequacy between the unanimously shared ideal and our ability to adapt ourselves all to the requirements of this ideal.

    Ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen,

    Our country calls us to realism, solidarity and cohesion.

    As appropriate as they may seem, our political party charter and electoral code have caused us harm, because many of us, when it came to implementation, did not find it.

    It therefore now seems appropriate for political actors to meet to assess their application, reflect and discuss possible adaptations to be made with a view to a better and realistic organisation of the political space and political competition, allowing the strengthening of national unity and concord, while preserving the essential consolidation of political practices.

    It is convinced of this ideal that I convened this meeting dedicated to Political Dialogue, as I undertook to do on 20 May last in front of our people, and then reiterated it on 15 July, during my meeting with certain political leaders.
    Ladies and gentlemen,

    The political dialogue to which I invite you is justified by the will of our people to see their political actors rise to the challenges of state-building and nation-building.

    It is part of my permanent concern to involve political actors in the search for compromises on key political issues, particularly electoral issues, the resolution of which is essential to our cohesion and our march towards progress.

    Its purpose lies in the responsible recommendations that you will have to make to me.

    I am convinced that your faith and your responsible political commitment will enable us to find solutions that further strengthen our institutions and remove them from all forms of perversion and regression.

    We all know, and it is worth recalling here this morning, that in order to put an end to the practices that delay its development and create the conditions for prosperity in order to provide better living conditions for its children, our country needs far-reaching reforms, such as the reform of the partisan system.

    Indeed, the partisan system as instituted, perceived and practiced since 1991 does not always provide the political means of resilience to institutional, economic and socio-political challenges.

    Above all, it is struggling to mobilize in sufficient numbers and in sufficient numbers in homogeneous groups, the qualitative political resources necessary for the State’s performance in carrying out its essential missions.

    Is there not a strong interest in reforming our model to adapt it to our needs for good governance, through the establishment of rules that bind us to the constitution of large healthy political blocs that are the exclusive driving force behind political competition?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the life of a nation, such meetings are not frequent, even if they are desired.

That is why I congratulate the delegates of the various political parties represented here on their appointments, and invite them to take this opportunity to explore all possible avenues for improving the legal framework governing our electoral system and to make relevant recommendations to achieve this.

In this regard, I have no doubt that the sense of duty towards the Republic will prevail in the exchanges and that the essential point will be preserved: the urgent need to reform our political and partisan practices in order to improve the country’s overall governance.

In this way, we will give our people reasons to continue to believe in us as political actors, because they will have understood that the difficult but necessary reforms do not spare us either.

Better still, our fellow citizens would appreciate to see that we too are making the sacrifices necessary for the development of all as we ask of them.

In any event, I would like to reassure you, Distinguished Delegates, that my Government will diligently assess the relevance and timeliness of your recommendations with a view to carrying out the acts for which it is responsible.

I have no doubt that the same will apply to the National Assembly.

I will spare no personal effort in this regard.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Finally, I would like to thank you for agreeing to invest yourself in this mission of high national importance.

To ensure that your exchanges run smoothly and with mutual respect, I have appointed Mr Dorothée Cossi SOSSA, whose intellectual, political and professional experience is known to all, to lead and facilitate them.

At his side will be Mr Victor Prudent TOPANOU, whom I have appointed as my first Rapporteur, and two others whom you will appoint from among yourselves.

Counting on the commitment of each and every one of us in the service of the Republic, our common good, I declare open the Political Dialogue, the conclusions of which I will be pleased to receive, here next Saturday.

Long live the political class!

Long live Benin!

Thank you very much.

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