At least one person was killed and several others were wounded as anti-government protests continued in Cotonou on Thursday, May 2. According to local sources, government troops opened fire with automatic weapons on crowds gathered near the residence of former President Thomas Boni Yayi. Roadblocks and associated incidents of unrest have been reported in the Cadjehoun and Haie Vive districts of Cotonou, where the military has deployed armored vehicles. The protests come as the Constitutional Court is scheduled to confirm the results of the April 28 legislative election at 16:00 (local time) on Thursday.
Violent protests were also reported in Kandi (Alibori department) as protesters reportedly set fire to a factory during the overnight hours of May 1-2. Local authorities claim protesters subsequently attacked firefighters responding to the blaze.
Additional protests are possible in the coming hours and days in Cotonou and throughout Benin amid a heightened security presence. Operations at Cardinal Bernardin Gantin de Cotonou International Airport (COO) are continuing as of Thursday afternoon; further clashes between protesters and police near COO may impact flights over the coming hours and days.
The latest political demonstrations and unrest follow the April 28 legislative elections. Tensions remain high in Benin after anti-government protests broke out in Cotonou on May 1, with partial disruptions to internet service being reported throughout the country.
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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