Talon jails Réckya Madougou, the woman who scared him with her credentials

Former Beninese cabinet minister Réckya Madougou arbitrarily jailed by President Talon

BY SOUMANOU SALIFOU

The dozens of innocent people Talon has thrown in jail or chased into exile, knowing they would beat him like a drum in a fair, transparent election, include a powerhouse, former cabinet minister Réckya Madouou, who boasts credentials that have scared the hell out of Talon, a college dropout.

Madougou was this year the first female presidential candidate for a major political party in Benin’s history, The Democrats. Her candidacy was arbitrarily rejected by the Constitutional Court headed by President Talon’s former personal lawyer and Minister of Justice. She was arrested on March 3rd—without a subpoena being sent to Madougou—while she was on her way from a political rally in Porto-Novo. According to an eyewitness, the car she was being driven in was stopped by the security forces that ordered all other passengers out and drove her straight to the police station in Cotonou. Her arrest was ordered by the so-called Court for the Repression of Economic and Terrorist Crimes, CRIET, created in October 2018 by Talon to harass his political adversaries. Madougou was accused of being involved in a plot to assassinate two political figures and create unrest during the presidential campaign.

Réckya Madouou is very well known in Benin and far beyond. She came in the spotlight in 2005 when she led the civil society campaign “Don’t touch my constitution” (Touche pas à ma Constitution) at a time then-President Mathieu Kérékou —who was only months away from the end of his second legal term—showed clear signs of wanting to revise the constitution to serve a third term. The campaign proved effective as members of the civil society, the media and others joined in, forcing Kérékou to renounce his plans. “Touche pas à ma Constitution became a powerful slogan used in several other West African countries.

Then-Beninese Minister of Microfinance, Youth and Women Employment, Réckya Madouou, addresses a group of entrepreneurs in Porto-Novo on October 26, 2010

In 2008, Madougou joined the cabinet of then-President Yayi Boni—who benefited from the “Touche pas à ma Constitution” campaign—and served for five years, first as Minister of Microfinance, Youth and Women Employment, and later as Minister of Justice. Thanks to her steady rise on the professional ladder, she became the 2017 recipient of Rebranding Africa Forum Award, and was listed several years ago by a major African magazine, Jeune Afrique, among the 50 most influential women in Africa.

It was no surprise that this high-power woman, an author who holds a doctorate degree in International Business from the Institute of Higher International Studies in France, and the first woman from a French-speaking African country to be admitted to Harvard University’s “Driving Government Performance” program, wanted to do more for her country.

So, at the young age of 46, she decided to contest the April 11, 2021 presidential election. The move scared the hell out of the businessman turned politician who has ruled Benin for the past five with terror, Patrice Talon.