Cotonou (Agenzia Fides) - "We are very worried about the incidents and violence that marked the vote, for the scarce participation of the population in the vote, and for the unimaginable scenes of violence of May 1st", say the Bishops of Benin in their declaration "Stop violence: preserve peace and national unity" published yesterday, 3 May.
The elections of April 28th saw a strong abstention of the electorate as a sign of protest for the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENA), to allow the participation in the parliamentary elections only to the two parties, the progressives and the Republicans, close to President Patrice Talon (see, 16/4/2019). Only 22.99% of voters went to the polls, the lowest in the history of electoral consultations in the Country. Since 1990, the turnout had never fallen below 50%.
On May 1 and the following day in Cotonou and other parts of the Country there were serious clashes between the police and hundreds of demonstrators, many of whom are supporters of former President Thomas Boni Yayi.
In the face of violence, the Bishops complain that "psychosis is conquering the hearts of the Beninese, so proud of their internationally recognized Country as a haven of peace and a model of democracy in Africa". The Bishops’ Conference expresses closeness to the victims of violence and condemns "firmly every act of violence in any form".
Calling themselves available for mediation, the Bishops invite politicians "to renew the thread of dialogue in order to safeguard social peace and national unity, a guarantee of the harmonious development of the Country".
The message concludes by inviting everyone to pray "so that God will continue to bless and protect our common homeland, Benin". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 4/5/2019)