Benin releases 30 opposition activists

Justice decided on Wednesday July 27 to release and place 30 opposition activists under judicial control for actions committed during the 2021 presidential election that had caused unrest. Among them a former minister and a well-known activist. The decision taken by Criet comes as Emmanuel Macron, who visited Benin on Wednesday, raised the issue with his Beninese counterpart.

They leave the prison and return home, but are placed under judicial control. It is day release, but a relief for the recipients, their parties and their lawyers.

Among them the former minister and prefect Ali Houdou, a 30-year-old young activist and former head of a public company close to Boni Yayi. All were arrested during the unrest at the time of the presidential elections in April 2021, recalls our correspondent in Cotonou, Jean-Luc Aplogan.

Hours before the court’s decision, the Beninese head of state said he had discussed the fate of the opponents face-to-face with his French counterpart, who was visiting Cotonou. Coincidence or consequence of the interview?

Those close to the authorities remember that this is the third wave of people released and placed under judicial supervision, this was the case in October 2021 and last June. Joël Aivo and Reckya Madougou are not worried and continue to serve sentences of 10 and 20 years in prison.

Talon invokes acts of pardon or amnesty. Asked during his joint press conference with Emmanuel Macron about potential gestures towards exiled personalities or detained opponents, Patrice Talon said he was “just in his boots” as he evoked an opening. “In Benin there are no political prisoners,” he said. No one is detained for their political opinion. But people are detained for committing crimes, misdemeanors in the political field. So it may be that in times to come, in my time or after me, acts of pardon or amnesty will be done in favor of these people. Is it possible. »

“I would like to see the current dynamics in Benin continue to make our country credible because what matters to us is that this country is a country of law, democracy and also good governance”, he insisted. These releases are a “good thing” for the opposition, but they are asking the president to move on.

It is a good thing. President Talon is headed in the right direction. The opposition has always called for the release of political prisoners and the unconditional return of exiles, as well as the holding of inclusive, transparent and peaceful legislative elections. If this is a signal that President Talon is giving to the world and the Beninese that he will henceforth respect human rights, the rule of law and democracy, we can only welcome it.

Alassane Tigri, deputy chairman of the opposition party Les Démocrates

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