Benin appoints French financier as prime minister
Lionel Zinsou, who has headed PAI Partners since 2009, will be in charge of economic development, evaluating public policy and promoting good governance in the tiny West African nation.
The appointment, announced on Thursday evening, is part of Boni Yayi’s new 28-member government, which also sees the new role of deputy prime minister created along with three new minister of state jobs.
Zinsou last year spearheaded discussions in Paris to secure international financing from both the public and private sectors for economic development in Benin.
Government secretary-general Alassani Tigri said the financier would “contribute to the effective implementation” of the promises made at the meeting.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius congratulated 60-year-old Zinsou, who worked for him during his time as prime minister in the 1980s.
His competence and international experience “will be a strong asset” in helping Benin to develop, Fabius said in a statement.
But there was scepticism about the exact nature of the new prime minister’s position and what he can achieve, with presidential elections due next year and Boni Yayi due to stand down.
“In reality he has no role, no influence over the other ministers,” said Vincent Foly, a columnist at the Nouvelle Tribune daily.
“With less than nine months until the end of the (president’s) mandate, we can’t expect anything from him in Benin, even if he’s known in French political circles,” he added.