AFRICA/BENIN - Tension on the eve of the vote; waves of arbitrary arrests have been denounced

Saturday, 27 April 2019 elections   bishops   democracy  

Cotonou (Agenzia Fides) - Tense electoral vigil in Benin, where the legislative elections will be held tomorrow, Sunday 28 April, in which opposition candidates have been excluded. On March 5, the Electoral Commission excluded the opposition lists, allowing only the candidates of the two electoral majority parties, the "Progressives" and the "Republicans" to the vote. In reaction to the decision of the Electoral Commission, the opposition, under the patronage of the former Presidents Nicéphore Soglo and Boni Yayi, invited the population to protest. However, the demonstrations were repressed with brutal methods, according to Amnesty International. "The wave of arbitrary arrests of political militants and journalists and the repression of peaceful demonstrations has reached an alarming level", said Amnesty International. "Prohibiting peaceful protests and arresting those who denounce the exclusion of opposition parties will only increase political unrest", warns the NGO for the defense of human rights.
The Bishops had officially expressed their opinion regarding the socio-political situation in a declaration made public on April 15 at the headquarters of the Bishops' Conference of Benin in Cotonou. "After three decades of democratic experience, Benin is facing an unprecedented situation: the legislative elections in which only two parties from the same political area will take part", write the Bishops of Benin in their message entitled "Peace: a fragile flower" (see Fides, 16/4/2019).
The Bishops invite the faithful to prayer and fasting during the Easter Triduum to ask for God's help to bring peace and harmony back to Benin. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 27/4/2019)