Relative calm has returned to Cotonou on Friday, May 3, following two consecutive days of clashes between security forces and demonstrators protesting the exclusion of opposition parties from the April 28 legislative elections. The military remains deployed to the Cadjehoun district as of Friday morning (local time), notably in the area surrounding the residence of former President Boni Yayi.
The Constitutional Court announced the results of the election on Thursday evening, May 2; the court's chief Joseph Djogbenou indicated some irregularities in the voting process did not constitute grounds to invalidate the election. Roughly 45 percent of deputies were reelected in the vote, which featured a participation rate of 27 percent.
Further protests are possible in the coming days in Cotonou and across Benin amid a heightened security presence. Operations at Cardinal Bernardin Gantin de Cotonou International Airport (COO) are continuing as of Friday; 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. At least two people were killed as police and troops fire live rounds on crowds on May 1-2.
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.
Copyright and Disclaimer