In the tightening grip of an autocrat, Benin must reform or ...

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In the tightening grip of an autocrat, Benin must reform or implode

Terror looms if it doesn’t deal with graft, the economy and a crackdown on the opposition, media and civil society

Columnist

Benin, in the past a reasonably stable country in West Africa, has now plunged into seemingly unstoppable violence following a disputed parliamentary election in April 2018 when President Patrice Talon, who secured office in 2016, elbowed out legitimate opponents in his bid to tighten his grip on power.

Many opposition parties and leaders were barred from participating in the April 28 2018 parliamentary elections, when the country’s five million voters went to the polls to elect 83 future parliamentary representatives. The election in Benin, formerly called Dahomey (https://www.britannica.com/place/Dahomey-historical-kingdom-Africa), became essentially an election without opposition parties.

Only two parties were effectively allowed to participate, the Bloc Républicain and the Union Progressiste, both being loyal supporters of Talon. The other parties were disqualified for allegedly failing to meet minimum candidature qualification standards. The government has an absolute majority in parliament. Only 23% of those registered to vote actually voted...

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