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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
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 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 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.

VOA Blogs