CNN International: Hailed as one of the promising democracies in West Africa, Benin has now been turning into a brutal dictatorship under Boni Yayi’s rule.
Brutal suppression of labor protest by Boni Yayi
Hailed as one of the promising democracies in West Africa, Benin has now been turning into a brutal dictatorship under Boni Yayi’s rule.
On last Friday, 27th of December 2013, all Benin major labor leaders called for a demonstration that was supposed to denounce among other things the rise of corruption, the failure of the government to hold local elections that were due to take place in March 2013, the rising of living cost, the assassination attempts on prominent citizens, the poor economic performance of the country and mainly the fraudulent results of recruitment exam that were upheld by Boni Yayi.
The recognition of the results of this recruitment exam has caused outcry among the public, as many see it as a disgrace to the image of the country. Martin Assogba, one of the outspoken critics of Boni Yayi, who expressed his outrage about the government’s move to recognize the results of this exam marked by frauds, nearly died in the night of December 9th, when unknown gunmen attacked him in Abomey-Calavi, a suburb of Cotonou. He was rushed to nearby hospital where doctors managed to extract part of the bullets from his body. He was later conducted to the country’s main hospital in Cotonou before being flown out to Paris with the assistance of the government that wanted to do everything to distance itself from the attack. Alleged suspects were arrested by the police but were released later because the prosecutor said he found no charges against them. The prosecutor indicated that those arrested were not responsible for the attack since they were engaged in the same fight for the same cause as Martin Assogba. But the police still maintained that they were guilty.
West African state of Benin has been facing a political crisis since March 2011 presidential elections. The opposition refuses to recognize the Boni Yayi as the winner after an outright victory according to the result stated by the Constitutional Court. While the opposition has been calling for a national dialogue, the government has remained unwilling to find a way out of the crisis. Instead, Boni Yayi has been causing an escalation in the crisis, by attempting to modifying unilaterally the constitution which bans more than two terms in office.
Another dimension of the crisis is related to the case that was filed before a French court by the Benin government against a wealthy businessman, Partice Talon, previously very close to Boni Yayi, in order to have him extradited from France to Cotonou. However, Benin judge Angelo Hessou dropped the charges against Partice Talon after auguring that the case lacked proof to back the accusations of both attempted poisoning of the head of state and coup d’état. On December 1st, the judge Angelo Hessou fled to United States where he claimed he had been threatened to be assassinated by Boni Yayi’s regime. According to the judge as these threats were intensifying, prior to the decision of the French court that looked likely to be in favor of the government, he had to flee for his life.
The workers and their leaders hoped to expressed their dismay about the worsening condition of the country but the only response that they had to face was the brutal force of the police under the command of Boni Yayi. More than 20 peaceful protesters were assaulted by the police that used teargas and batons to disperse the remaining demonstrators. Many including the labors leaders were severely wounded and were rushed to hospital. Even by the African standards, the brutality of the policy was unprecedented.