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Benin: Bridging the gap between political parties and parliaments

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Benin: Bridging the gap between political parties and parliaments

Background

The cooperation between AWEPA and the National Assembly of Benin started almost a decade ago, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in 2007. Following the implementation of a capacity building programme (2011-2015) targeting the Parliament and Political Parties, which was piloted jointly with the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD), AWEPA is now working in Benin in the framework of the Strategic Partnership Programme (2016-2020) with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NIMD. This programme aims to contribute to a conductive environment in which political and civic actors can effectively lobby and influence political and policy processes to advocate for inclusive and equitable social change.

 

Objectives

The programme interventions of AWEPA and NIMD in Benin are aiming at:

  • Supporting the review process of the current political system legislation (electoral law, political party financing, parliamentary internal regulations, status of the opposition, etc.) in an inclusive manner, through the implementation of multistakeholders dialogue sessions on democratic reforms.
  • Improving the oversight function of parliamentarians and political parties over the executive, and developing their policy development abilities by providing training to parliamentarians, parliamentary support staff and political party representatives.
  • Improving the trust and relationships between political and civic actors and contributing to orientate national policy development towards civic needs, through the implementation of parliamentary outreach visits.
  • Capacitating political aspiring youth in general, and young women in particular, by

creating a Benin School of Politics with a class of participants graduated on a yearly basis.

 

Example of activities

AWEPA organised two thematic parliamentary outreach visits in 2016. The Members of the Law Committee in the Parliament could visit criminal institutions (prisons, courts, police stations, etc.) across the country and gather inputs from various stakeholders in the framework of the Benin Criminal Law review. MPs also had the opportunity to travel to several districts in order to oversee the implementation of the Land policy passed by Parliament in 2013.

AWEPA and NIMD were also successful in formally setting up the Benin School of Politics which was piloted in 2015. During 2016 a class of participants representing various political parties and civil society organisations attended monthly political training sessions and graduated in December.

 

Impacts

AWEPA contributed to building capacity within the National Assembly by organising a training for parliamentarians on budget oversight, but also within political parties by providing technical support to develop their manifestos and other programmatic documents. Another important programme impact is the fact that the feedback from the stakeholders who met during parliamentary outreach visits organised by AWEPA were used by parliamentarians to amend the 2017 national budget.

In addition, the programme deals with aspects of inclusivity by working with young political parties and CSOs representatives involved in the School of Politics training sessions. Political aspiring youth are being capacitated to influence internal party and political decision-making processes to be more inclusive and accommodative.