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Benin holds parliamentary elections as unrest over opposition restrictions grows


Benin holds parliamentary elections as unrest over opposition restrictions grows

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Photo: Reuters

Benin holds legislative elections today.

The West African country is suffering political upheaval following the exclusion of five opposition parties because they did not satisfy electoral regulations implemented last year. The regulations require a political party to pay a fee, which was increased by 97%, and gain 10% of the primary vote. The only two parties permitted to contest the election are overtly supportive of Beninese President Patrice Talon.

Given that one of the excluded parties, the Cowry Forces for an Emerging Benin, won almost half of the legislative seats in the 2015 elections, today’s vote will be hardly democratic. Approximately 20,000 people protested the decision in Cotonou last month, while the opposition described the new electoral conditions as Talon’s way of consolidating power and called for Beninese voters to boycott the vote.

Compounding the situation, this month security personnel used tear gas, batons and arrests of opposition leaders to disrupt non-violent protests against the ban.

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Expect Talon to dominate seats in the National Assembly. Given the opposition’s refusal to express their grievances through the parliamentary process, expect more protests. Expect Talon to violently oppress these protests, pushing Benin towards more authoritarian rule in the long-term.

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