Thousands of People Protest in Benin to Support Opposition

(Bloomberg) -- Thousands of people in Benin joined a march on Monday to protest the exclusion of five main opposition parties from legislative elections next month by the West African nation’s electoral commission.

The decision of the electoral body to only allow two parties loyal to President Patrice Talon to participate in the vote has been widely condemned by civil-society groups, who say Talon’s administration is increasingly repressive, especially toward the media and political opponents.

The protest in the commercial capital, Cotonou, was organized by the opposition but publicly supported by senior political figures such as former President Nicephore Soglo and the vice president of the National Assembly, Eric Houndete.

Talon, a multi-millionaire businessman who won elections in 2016, said the country’s electoral laws have to be respected but invited opposition leaders for talks last week. They boycotted the meeting.

The electoral commission set a threshold of 249 million CFA francs ($428,242) that parties must have to participate, among other conditions.

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