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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
08COTONOU46
2008-01-18 13:34:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Cotonou
Cable title:  

SCENESETTER FOR THE POTUS VISIT TO BENIN

Tags:   OVIP  BUSH  GEORGE  PGOV  EAID  KMCA  BN 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0007
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHCO #0046/01 0181334
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 181334Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY COTONOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0127
INFO RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA PRIORITY 1540
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L COTONOU 000046 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

WHITE HOUSE FOR SPENCER GEISSINGER AND MELISSA BENNETT
NSC FOR MARY HAINES
STATE FOR A/EX/PTS CSZYMANSKI AND AF/W DBANKS
ACCRA FOR WHITE HOUSE PRE-ADVANCE SURVEY TEAM

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/17/2018
TAGS: OVIP BUSH GEORGE PGOV EAID KMCA BN
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR THE POTUS VISIT TO BENIN

REF: A. COTONOU 37

B. COTONOU 9

Classified By: Amb. Gayleatha B. Brown for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

-------
Summary
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C O N F I D E N T I A L COTONOU 000046

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

WHITE HOUSE FOR SPENCER GEISSINGER AND MELISSA BENNETT
NSC FOR MARY HAINES
STATE FOR A/EX/PTS CSZYMANSKI AND AF/W DBANKS
ACCRA FOR WHITE HOUSE PRE-ADVANCE SURVEY TEAM

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/17/2018
TAGS: OVIP BUSH GEORGE PGOV EAID KMCA BN
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR THE POTUS VISIT TO BENIN

REF: A. COTONOU 37

B. COTONOU 9

Classified By: Amb. Gayleatha B. Brown for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

--------------
Summary
--------------

1.(SBU) The POTUS visit to Benin provides an excellent
opportunity to re-enforce already strong ties between the
U.S. and Benin and show that the United States supports
Benin's democratic tradition. President Yayi, who has
followed a decidedly pro-American course since taking office
in April 2006, warmly welcomes your visit. The United States
is an active partner in Benin's development through USAID,
MCC, and Peace Corps. Post suggests that we encourage
President Yayi to look to the U.S. as a trading partner, work
quickly to implement the President's Malaria Initiative
(PMI), encourage him to commit to a comprehensive
anti-corruption plan, and sign a Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU) for the preferred New Embassy Construction (NEC) site
in Cotonou. Per ref A, expect President Yayi to raise with
POTUS a request for another five year Millennium Challenge
Compact after the conclusion of the current compact,
assistance in the fight against HIV/AIDS, increased funding
for education assistance programs, and a re-inforcement of
Benin's capacity to fight against terrorism.

--------------
Where is Benin going?
--------------

2.(U) President Yayi's political movement, Force Cowrie for
an Emerging Benin (FCBE), did well in parliamentary elections
in April 2007 and President Yayi now governs with a
comfortable majority in the National Assembly. Upcoming
municipal elections, which are scheduled for February 17 but
will probably be delayed until late March due to delays in
naming the electoral commission, will provide an idea of how
powerful Yayi and his political movement are after almost 2
years in office. The electoral commission is scheduled to be

sworn in January 19 by the President of the Constitutional
Court.

3.(U) President Yayi employs a governing style which is much
more in touch with the people of Benin than previous
presidents. He travels frequently throughout Benin meeting
with people in markets and visiting children in school. This
translates into his engagement with the international
community. President Yayi has traveled extensively in
Europe, South and North America, the Middle East, and Asia in
an effort to promote Benin. This international engagement is
also present in Benin's peacekeeping efforts. More than 10
percent of Benin's armed forces are deployed abroad on
peacekeeping assignments in the Democratic Republic of the
Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, and Haiti.

4.(SBU) President Yayi, who speaks often of an "emerging
Benin", prioritized double-digit economic growth and the
fight against corruption since taking office. According to
the IMF, Benin's GDP grew at 4.2 percent in 2007, up from 3.8
percent in 2006. Economic growth continues to be constrained
by electricity shortages and excessive regulatory red tape.
The fight against corruption has succeeded in exposing cases
of malfeasance at government-owned corporations and in
government agencies, but it lacks the overall focus and
coordination that an anti-corruption action plan would give
it.

--------------
How is the United States helping?
--------------

5.(U) The United States supports Benin through a wide range
of programs including the Millennium Challenge Corporation
(MCC), the United States Agency for International Development
(USAID), the Departments of State and Defense, and the Peace
Corps. The MCC, which represents the major source of U.S.
assistance to Benin, signed its 307 million dollar compact
with Benin in 2006. The compact's largest program is its
Access to Markets component which aims to use approximately
169 million dollars to vastly improve the efficiency of the
Port of Cotonou.

6.(U) The USAID program in Benin is investing in the health
and education of the Beninese people with a projected FY 2008
budget of 28.4 million dollars. The Presidential Malaria
Initiative (PMI), with an FY 2008 budget of 14 million
dollars, will reduce malaria-related deaths by 50 percent
over three years. The Women's Justice and Empowerment
Initiative (WJEI), with a budget of 5.5 million dollars over
three years, will act to reduce gender-based violence against
women and children.

7.(U) Peace Corps, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary
in Benin in 2008, is active in the small business,
environment, education, and health sectors. Peace Corps' 93
volunteers, spread throughout Benin, enjoyed considerable
success during 2007. Among their many achievements they
taught English to 7,586 secondary school students and
provided HIV/AIDS education to 3,300 men, women, and youth.
Volunteers have also been successful in raising over 50,000
dollars in private-public funding for secondary projects in
such areas as orphanage improvement, eco-tourism, and girls'
education scholarships.

8.(U) The Department of State, through the ACOTA program,
funded the training of 1100 Beninese soldiers for
peacekeeping missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
and Cote d'Ivoire during 2007. IMET funding supported a
Department of Defense Institute for International Legal
Studies seminar which concentrated on the legal aspects of
combating terrorism for an engaged audience of 33 senior GOB
military and civilian leaders. Self-Help Program Funds
funded the construction of multiple classroom buildings
across Benin in 2007 and the Democracy and Human Rights Fund
supported projects which made an appreciable impact on
raising awareness of children's rights and supporting girls'
education.

--------------
Next Steps in U.S.-Benin Cooperation
--------------

9.(C) As we continue to strengthen the ties between the U.S.
and Benin, Post requests that President Bush express
appreciation for the selection of a U.S. corporation,
Combustion Associates, Inc., of California, to build a 80 MW
power plant (Benin's largest ever power plant procurement
worth 67 million dollars).

10.(C) NEC: President Yayi's personal support was required to
identify a suitable site in Cotonou for a New Embassy
Compound (NEC). However, recalcitrant GOB members object to
the proposed sale of government land, which includes old,
dilapidated Conseil de l'Entente buildings, and have stalled
signing an MOU with the USG. It would be useful for POTUS to
request President Yayi's continued attention to this matter.

11.(C) Benin deserves our congratulations for its
well-organized, responsible and humane response to the avian
influenza outbreak, which began in Benin in December 2007.
The GOB acted quickly to cooperate with the international
community, compensate farmers for their losses, and
aggressively cull birds to contain the outbreak. Post now
aims to make the PMI a similar success story. It would be
useful to re-iterate with President Yayi that the GOB will
need to quickly mobilize the necessary resources to support
the PMI, manage the resources the U.S. provides transparently
and with accountability, and make administrative decisions
without delay.

12.(C) President Yayi has taken significant symbolic steps
against corruption. He has fired corrupt senior officials,
declared an anti-corruption day, lead a march against
corruption of several thousand people through Cotonou and
created new government audit bodies to monitor government
spending. In spite of these efforts, Benin failed the MCC's
Corruption indicator in 2006 and 2007, which jeopardizes
Benin's continuing eligibility for MCC assistance. Benin
must adopt a systemic approach to fighting corruption. We
welcome President Yayi's efforts to date to fight corruption
and encourage him to work with the international community to
quickly develop an anti-corruption action plan.

BROWN