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Benin - Government

The President is Head of State and Head of Government. A one-man-one-vote suffrage elects the President/Head of Government who may be a member to a Party. His tenure of office is five (5) years and is renewed only once. He should be of Beninese nationality for at least ten (10) years. The vacancy (resignation, death...) of the presidency is filled by the Speaker of the National Assembly. The new Head of State is elected within forty (40) days. The President/ Head of State/ Head of Government addresses the Nation on the state of the Nation in the National Assembly Hall once in a year.

In Benin, the powers of the executive power are defined by the constitution of 11 December 1990. The executive power is embodied by the President of the Republic. Since it is a presidential system, it is the Head of State who is at the same time the head of the government. Under Article 41 of the Constitution, "The President of the Republic is the Head of State. He is the elected representative of the nation and embodies national unity. He is the guarantor of national independence, territorial integrity and respect for the Constitution, international treaties and agreements.

The President of the Republic shall appoint the members of the Government after advisory opinion of the Bureau of the National Assembly. It is he who fixes their duties and ends their functions. The members of the Government are answerable to him. The President of the Republic and the members of the Government meet in the Council of Ministers. This body must deliberate on decisions determining the general policy of the State; Bills; The ordinances the regulatory decrees. The Beninese Parliament is a unicameral type. This configuration, which has been in force since independence in 1960, has been confirmed by the Constitution of 11 December 1990, which provides, in its article 79: "The Parliament shall be constituted by a single Assembly called the National Assembly whose members shall bear the title of deputy. It exercises the legislative power and controls the action of the Government."

In the National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) 83 members are elected through a closed-list proportional representation system to serve 4-year terms. Seats are split into 24 multi-member constituencies creating a low district magnitude.

A one-man-one-vote suffrage elects the Members of Parliament (MP). His 4-year mandate is renewable. There is one MP for 70,000 inhabitants. The vacancy (resignation, death...) at the speakership is filled by his successor elected within fifteen (15) days when the House is in session or at an immediate meeting held in compliance with its rules of procedure. The vacancy of an MP is filled by his substitute also elected in the same manner. There are two ordinary sessions starting within the first fortnight of April and the second fortnight of October respectively. Each session cannot exceed three (3) months. The decision is taken by a simple majority.

According to article 79 paragraph 2 of the Constitution, two missions are therefore assigned to the Beninese parliament: * Discuss and vote laws * Control government action The main organs of the National Assembly are:

The Bureau, elected at the beginning of each legislative term and comprising:
1. the President of the National Assembly
2. the First Vice-President
3. the Second Vice-President
4. the First Quaestor
5. the Second Quaestor
6. the First Parliamentary Secretary
7. The Second Parliamentary Secretary.

* The Standing Committees, numbering five (5):
1. The Commission on Laws, Administration and Human Rights;
2. The Committee on Finance and Exchanges;
3. The Committee on Planning, Equipment and Production;
4. The Committee on Education, Culture, Employment and Social Affairs;
5. The Commission for External Relations, Development Cooperation, Defense and Security.

Parliamentary Groups, constituted by members of the same party or with political affinities

The Conference of Presidents which comprises:
1. The President of the National Assembly
2. The other members of the Bureau;
3. The Chairmen of the Standing Committees;
4. The Chairmen of the Parliamentary Groups.

The functioning of the National Assembly is governed by an Internal Rules.

Decentralisation is still a relatively recent development in Benin. The 1990 constitution clearly provides for local self-government; however a lengthy process for the elaboration of the legal and political framework and several postponements of the first local elections resulted in the decentralised local governments only being established in early 2003.

The main decentralisation option chosen by the country – as stated in a set of laws adopted in 1999 – is to create a single level of local governments with autonomy in essential services delivery and to reinforce a central government structure at the department level that will be able, in compliance with decentralisation law, to: (i) provide communes with technical support; and (ii) be the prime focus of interaction between central state and communes.

With the implementation of the decentralisation reforms, the country was divided into 77 local governments (communes). The decentralisation law 97-029 transferred to communes the following mandates: communal planning, construction of infrastructure (building / Maintenance of roads, street lighting), environment, hygiene and sanitation (drinking water, waste management, rainwater), literacy, early childhood and primary education (building, equipment and maintenance of schools), health and social education (building, equipment and maintenance of public health centres), economic services and investments (building, equipment, and maintenance of markets and abattoirs).

The government of Benin has engaged in the process of elaborating various policies and strategies for national development that include references to decentralisation and local governance. The second generation PRSP (Stratégie de Croissance pour la Réduction de la Pauvreté) elaborated in 2007 clearly recognises the role of local governments in poverty reduction.

Two of the five interrelated pillars of the poverty reduction strategy put forward the implementation of decentralisation reform as a core element, namely the pillars ‘Promotion of good governance’ and ‘Equitable and sustainable development of the territory’. The program for support decentralisation and deconcentration and the national programme for the territorial development are explicitly included in the PRSP as means of implementation.

In 2017, MEPs must vote on the principle of a constitutional revision. The text proposed by President Patrice Talon includes a single six-year mandate for the head of state, public funding of political parties, and the ban on detaining and detaining the current ministers.

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