Benin Falls in Ranking of Civic Freedoms Amid Regional Backslide

Benin, once touted as a democratic success story, was downgraded to the second-worst rating a country can be given by a platform that tracks the violation of civic freedoms globally.

Democratic liberties have deteriorated under President Patrice Talon’s administration, who won reelection in an April 11 vote that excluded the main opposition, CIVICUS Monitor, said in a statement Wednesday.

CIVICUS dropped Benin’s rating from “obstructed” to “repressed,” placing it in the same category as Nigeria, Cameroon and Turkey.

Benin is the fifth West African country to be downgraded in the past six months. Ivory Coast and Guinea’s ratings also dropped to “repressed” after their respective leaders, Alassane Ouattara and Alpha Conde, secured third terms despite constitutional two-term limits. Togo and Niger also joined the category in December, highlighting a “worrying trend in the region,” according to the statement.

Since multiparty democracy was introduced in the early 90s, Benin had been a regional exemplar for smooth transitions through open ballots. Its parliament, controlled since 2019 by parties that back Talon, passed electoral laws that effectively made it more difficult for opposition candidates to run. In the lead-up to the April vote, the Constitutional Court rejected 17 out of 20 presidential hopefuls.

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