On Thursday, November 25, 2021, the Social Watch Benin, a civil society organization that holds government accountable for fulfilling national commitments to eradicate poverty and also ensure gender justice in Benin, met with the leadership of the National Assembly of Benin to seek their support for the Open Parliament Engagements and Networking in Africa (OPEN West Africa) project which is being implemented by Parliamentary Network Africa (PNAfrica) across the West African sub region, and expected visit by the delegation to meet with Members of the National Assembly.
The First Vice-President of the National Assembly, Honourable Robert GBIAN, who chaired the meeting, commended the initiative as it advances the same objectives as the current legislature in terms of openness and transparency. This openness, he said, is manifested by the existence of a radio station in the Chamber which transmits parliamentary debates, a library in the National Assembly open to the public, a functioning website, a television project in Parliament, without forgetting parliamentary inquiries and public hearings with civil society on the national Budget.
According to the Vice-President, the OPEN West Africa initiative comes at the right time. He, therefore, pledged, on behalf of the President of the National Assembly, to support the activities of the project and gave Social Watch Benin the guarantee of the collaboration of the National
Assembly. The Board Chair of Social Watch Benin, Ms. Blanche SONON, expressed appreciation to the President of the National Assembly for the diligence with which their request for a hearing was granted by the head of the parliament while welcoming the efforts of the National Assembly to
promote parliamentary reforms for Open Parliament and expressed the readiness of Social Watch Benin for a healthy collaboration with Parliament.
In addressing the main subject of the hearing, the Board Chair informed the officials about the general objective of the OPEN West Africa project, saying, the project will help strengthen the relation between non-state actors and the National Assembly.
This is more important because the collaboration between the two actors has not been cordial in the majority of West African countries, especially those that lack a unifying framework and exchange of good practices, she added. She finally presented briefed the officials on the expected visit of the PNAfrica project team to Benin and promised to provide any further information to the National Assembly in the future for adequate preparations to be made. The other parliamentary staff who were present in the meeting included Mr. Mathieu AHOUANSOU (Chief of Staff to the President of the National Assembly), Mr. Mariano
OGOUTOLOU (General Administrative Secretary of the National Assembly), Mr. James GBAGUIDI (Deputy Director of Information and Communication Services of the National Assembly). The Social Watch Benin on the other hand were represented by Ms. Blanche SONON, (Chair of the Board of Directors of Social Watch Benin) and Mr. Jean-Pierre DEGUE (Executive Secretary of Social Watch Benin).