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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
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 Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
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.

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