To counter democratic backsliding in Benin, once one of Africa’s most stable democracies, IRI is promoting political pluralism, increasing the competitiveness of elections, and strengthening oversight of governance and elections.

People meet for Benin IRI

IRI works with parties across the political spectrum, helping create an environment that supports competitive and transparent elections in Benin. During the 2020 municipal elections, IRI worked with the citizen observation group Cadre d’Appui au Processus  Electoraux to monitor the vote and then guided political parties through an evaluation of the process. IRI interviewed representatives from political parties and civil society for an assessment of parties’ internal structures, processes, and work. IRI is now helping them engage with and advocate for citizens, develop strategies, write internal planning documents, and collaborate with other parties and the election commission. This work will ensure that citizens, including women and youth, are better represented in politics and policies.

IRI Staff in office in Benin
IRI staff in the office in Benin.

IRI is also countering democratic backsliding in Benin by encouraging civil society organizations (CSOs) to monitor and engage on a wide range of issues, ranging from oversight of elections to women’s rights. IRI formed a new independent civil society coalition, Coalition des Organisations de la Société Civile pour les Elections et la Paix (COSCEP), aimed at boosting engagement at a time when civil society is often seen as biased or coopted by the government.

With IRI’s financial and technical assistance, COSCEP sent observers to all 546 districts of the country for the 2021 presidential election. IRI helped COSCEP carry out a voter education campaign with a particular focus on those groups traditionally excluded from politics, such as people with disabilities and people living in rural areas. With IRI’s help, COSCEP is collecting data on citizens’ needs and priorities and communicating that information to the government.

Women are at the forefront of recent activism in Benin. IRI is working with women’s rights groups to advocate for reforms addressing discrimination. IRI has engaged with groups across the country in order to ensure a diversity of viewpoints and input into its work and is supporting these groups as they identify priority issues for Beninese women. IRI is also training women’s organizations to be effective advocates for policies that address women’s political marginalization in Benin.

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