Benin, a country known to be an example of democracy in West Africa, voted on April 28 to elect its representatives. The election was marked by a massive abstention and total ban on the use of the Internet. The opposition was not allowed to run and only two parties participated: The Republican Bloc and the Progressive Union, both allies to Benin’s president, Patrice Talon. Turnout was at a record low, at only 27%, in a clear demonstration of popular discontent. Also, internet access was restricted on the day of the voting as a way to prevent popular revolt and calls for protest – in the end it didn’t work

According to activists Nwachukwu Egbunike and Ellery Biddle, Whatsapp, Facebook and “several other major web platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, Telegram and Viber, went dark in the early hours of the day. By 11 am, 99.5% of internet connections became inactive, sending the West African country into a nationwide internet shutdown that lasted well into the night.”

Talon was elected in 2016 with a discourse of modernisation and respect for institutions. According to Jacque (fictitious name), an activist from Benin, “I cannot say that Patrice Talon does not respect institutions. But cleverly, since his election, he has managed to control them. So, he makes them do things that suit him and his government.”

Full article at InsideOver’s website (formerly Gli Occhi Della Guerra). Date of publication: 10/05/2019.

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