Tensions remain high in Benin after anti-government protests broke out in Cotonou on Wednesday, May 1, with partial disruptions to internet service being reported throughout the country. The Beninese government issued a statement on social media on May 1, warning its citizens to avoid sharing “fake news.” During elections on Sunday, April 28, the government completely shut down internet access nationwide for most of the day. Further service disruptions are possible in the coming hours and days.
Violent protests broke out in Cotonou on Wednesday evening (local time) after the initial results of the April 28 elections were announced. Demonstrators erected barricades and burned tires on the roads, including near Hale Vive. Roads were also blocked from Place de Martyrs to the Vedeko roundabout. According to local media reports, tanks and police officers deployed around the home in Cotonou of former President Thomas Boni Yayi. Additional protests are possible in the coming hours and days in Cotonou and throughout Benin. A heightened security presence and localized traffic disruptions are likely near any demonstrations. Further clashes between protesters and police are also possible.
The latest political demonstrations and unrest follow the April 28 legislative elections. Beninese politics is currently split between the supporters of current president Patrice Talon and the supporters of former president Thomas Boni Yayi. The National Independent Electoral Commission’s decision to bar all major opposition parties from participating in the April 28 elections was reportedly made without Talon’s input or approval, although opposition supporters claim Talon was responsible for the ban. Supporters of the Yayi-affiliated opposition party Cowry Forces for an Emerging Benin (Forces Cauris pour un Bénin émergent, FCBE) have held multiple protests in Parakou, Cotonou, and other urban centers nationwide since the March 5 imposition of the ban.
Individuals in Benin are advised to monitor the situation, avoid public political demonstrations due to the risk of violence, anticipate a heightened security presence and localized disruptions the wake of the April 28 election, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
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