News / Africa

Benin's Red Wednesday Movement Adds to Political Uncertainty

Map of BeninMap of Benin
x
Map of Benin
Map of Benin
A budding protest movement has raised further concern about instability in the small West African nation of Benin, where officials say the president has been targeted in two separate coup attempts in the past year. The Red Wednesday movement is committed to preventing President Thomas Boni Yayi from seeking a third term.

For about a month, hundreds of residents of Benin’s capital, Cotonou, have dressed up in bright red clothing every Wednesday to send a peaceful but clear message of discontent with the government. Organizers of the Red Wednesday movement say they have been joined by allies in other towns throughout the country.

Benin's President Thomas Yayi Boni attends the 43rd Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) meeting in Abuja, July 17, 2013.Benin's President Thomas Yayi Boni attends the 43rd Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) meeting in Abuja, July 17, 2013.
x
Benin's President Thomas Yayi Boni attends the 43rd Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) meeting in Abuja, July 17, 2013.
Benin's President Thomas Yayi Boni attends the 43rd Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) meeting in Abuja, July 17, 2013.
The demonstrators are angry about what they perceive to be an attempt by President Yayi to stay in office for a third term.Yayi became president in 2006 and won re-election in 2011. His current term expires in 2016, and term limits imposed by the constitution would prevent him from running again.

Yayi has tried to get parliament to take up the issue of constitutional reform.

He has made no explicit announcement about amending term limits, but Red Wednesday organizers such as Dieudonne Lokossou believe that is the reason for his interest in the project.

“Red Wednesday is a movement that is not happy with the manner that democracy is being implemented in Benin. So we have decided to wear red to show our disappointment," Lokossou said.

Red Wednesday members say they are fed up with what they describe as a lack of opportunity in Benin, whose economy is dominated by cotton production.

But there are also at least some links between the protest movement and recent political tensions, which were brought into focus last October when officials announced that three people close to the president, including his niece and doctor, had plotted to poison him.

Judicial officials have said the plot was organized by Patrice Talon, a wealthy player in the cotton industry and a former ally of President Yayi. Talon is currently in France. In interviews conducted there, he has said he helped finance Yayi’s election campaigns but split with the president over his ambition to seek re-election in 2016.

Yayi has said Talon wanted to use lucrative state contracts to grow his fortune, and became upset when those contracts were canceled.

In addition to the poisoning attempt, Benin officials said in March they had foiled a second coup attempt involving an associate of Talon’s.

A lawyer for Talon, Joseph Djogbenou, has played a key role in organizing the Red Wednesday protests.

Meanwhile, Talon seems to be at least temporarily protected in France, which has asked for more information before considering a request to extradite him to Benin.  Lydie Boka, manager of the risk analysis firm Strategico, said it was likely that Talon would be able to create more headaches for the president if he wanted.

"The fact is that Talon is a guy who hates Yayi.  It’s reciprocal," he said. "And France allows Talon to be here, and France tells Yayi, ‘Leave him alone,’ more or less."

The animosity between the two men may have influenced Yayi’s decision to sack his government last week, Boka said. In a new Cabinet announced this week, several prominent Talon supporters were removed, while officials who have been vocal in their support of Yayi stayed on.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More