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

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition 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.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs