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Northern departments continued to face sporadic jihadist attacks on military and civilian targets.
Suspected combatants from al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 1 May killed around 15 civilians and kidnapped another 12 in Kérou commune, Atakora department, and next day killed three civilians and kidnapped one more in Banikoara commune, Alibori department. In rare public statement on insecurity, govt 3 May announced investigation into both incidents. Soldiers 12 May killed one suspected JNIM militant and seized weapons following firefight in Matéri commune, Atakora department.
Northern departments suffered several attacks attributed to jihadist groups despite authorities’ efforts to contain violence.
Attacks targeted civilians and military along Burkina Faso and Niger borders. Unidentified armed individuals 2 April killed four fishermen in Matéri commune, Atakora department near border with Burkina Faso. Unidentified gunmen overnight 3-4 April attempted to abduct civilians and steal cattle at Fulani camp near Porga commune (also Atakora); army intervened and reportedly forced assailants to flee, but some sources claim three civilians killed. Unidentified armed individuals overnight 15-16 April reportedly attacked military camp near Malanville city at Niger border in Alibori department; death toll unknown. Govt 12 April announced special recruitment of 5,000 soldiers to be deployed in northern areas affected by jihadist incursions.
Rwanda committed to providing military assistance to counter jihadist threat. President Talon 15 April met with his Rwandan counterpart, President Paul Kagame, in economic capital Cotonou; two leaders signed agreement for Rwandan military help in securing Benin’s borders, with Talon saying cooperation could include anything from “monitoring, coaching and training” missions to “joint deployment” of troops.
Sporadic jihadist violence continued in north while govt met with allies to discuss security cooperation.
Suspected jihadist violence persisted along borders with Burkina Faso and Niger. In Atakora department, army 5-6 March intervened to repel suspected jihadist attack in Nouari village, Matéri commune; incident reportedly left one civilian killed and another injured. In Alibori department, suspected jihadists overnight 14-15 March killed one civilian in Mamassy-Peulh village, Karimama commune, near border with Niger. Security forces overnight 28-29 March reportedly ambushed suspected jihadists in Kandi commune (also Alibori), with ensuing clashes leaving three militants and one soldier dead. Authorities 7 March extended curfew already in place in Matéri and Cobly communes since Feb to seven other communes in Alibori and Atakora departments.
Govt discussed cooperation with allies to contain jihadist threat. Paris-based news outlet Africa Intelligence 2 March reported that negotiations to deploy Rwandan contingent in Benin have been put on hold. U.S. Under Sec State for Arms Control and International Security, Bonnie Jenkins, 7-9 March met with high-ranking govt and military officials in capital Cotonou to discuss strengthening capacity of Beninese armed forces. President Talon 13 March met with Nigerien President Bazoum in Cotonou; counterparts reportedly discussed joint security issues (see Niger).
Sporadic jihadist violence persisted in north despite govt’s efforts to strengthen military power.
Suspected jihadist attacks continued in northern Atakora department. Suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants 3 Feb attacked army position in Kerou commune, causing no confirmed casualties. Hundreds of residents around 4 Feb fled Niéhoun-Daloga village in Matéri commune after unidentified armed group late Jan reportedly gave them ultimatum to leave. Unidentified gunmen 21 Feb clashed with security forces near Daloga village, also in Matéri commune, reportedly leaving one soldier and at least two assailants dead. Meanwhile, hundreds of refugees arrived in northern Benin following 10 Feb deadly jihadist attack in Togo (see Togo).
Govt acquired new military equipment to help contain jihadist threat. As part of largely militarised response to jihadist violence, authorities 3 Feb acquired two attack helicopters and 9 Feb 50 new military trucks. Troops 19 Feb reportedly began patrolling border with Burkina Faso to prevent jihadist incursion.
Sporadic jihadist violence continued in north as country held peaceful legislative elections.
Suspected jihadist violence persisted in northern departments. In Atakora department near border with Burkina Faso, unidentified gunmen 1 Jan kidnapped four people in Matéri commune; suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) combatants 14 Jan reportedly gave five-day ultimatum to residents of Niéhoun-Daloga village in Matéri commune to leave, prompting army to conduct operation to clear area of jihadist presence. In Alibori department near border with Niger, improvised explosive device 1 Jan reportedly killed two civilians in Karimama commune.
Pro-govt parties won peaceful parliamentary elections. Constitutional Court 12 Jan announced that two parties supporting President Talon’s govt, Republican Bloc and Progressive Union for Renewal, won 81 out of 109 seats in parliamentary elections held 8 Jan; opposition to make return to parliament after four-year absence as main opposition party Les Démocrates won remaining 28 seats.
Govt forces repelled several attacks by suspected jihadists in north.
Suspected jihadist violence persisted in northern departments. In Alibori department near border with Niger, unidentified gunmen overnight 10-11 Nov clashed with soldiers in Karimama commune, leaving no casualties. In Atakora department near border with Burkina Faso, security forces overnight 24-25 Nov reportedly foiled attack by dozen gunmen at military base in Kérou town, leaving four assailants dead. In Borgou department near border with Nigeria, unidentified gunmen same night attacked Kalalé town, leaving one soldier wounded as military intervened to repel them.
Govt received French equipment to combat insecurity. Interior ministry 10 and 25 Nov received French donation of military equipment including over 20 vehicles. Parliament 23 Nov passed law granting benefits to relatives of soldiers deceased or disappeared and to soldiers wounded in mission.
Sporadic violence continued in north, and govt discussed military cooperation with commander of French Operation Barkhane.Jihadist and other violence persisted in northern departments. In Atakora department, unidentified armed men 4 and 7 Oct reportedly kidnapped two Fulani pastoralists near Matéri and Kérou towns; al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) elements 11 Oct tried to engage govt forces and accidentally detonated explosive device near Matéri, leaving eight militants dead. In Alibori department, unidentified armed men 7 Oct killed farmer in Segbana commune, and overnight 11-12 Oct kidnapped Fulani village chief in Karimama commune.
Visit of Barkhane commander sparked controversy. New commander of French Operation Barkhane, Gen Bruno Baratz, 4-6 Oct visited Benin and met with Defence Minister Fortunet Alain Nouatin; Baratz reportedly expressed France’s willingness to support Beninese forces while ruling out French military operations on Beninese territory. Following visit, rumours of French troop presence and of alleged plans to establish French military base in country spread on social media; govt around 10 Oct denied claims.
Islamic State (ISIS) claimed first attacks in country, and govt enlisted Rwanda in counter-insurgency strategy.Violence persisted in northern regions, ISIS claimed responsibility for July attacks. In Atakora department, unidentified armed group 3 Sept clashed with soldiers near military base in Matéri commune, leaving unknown casualties. In Alibori department, string of attacks, possibly by al-Qaeda affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims, reported in Sept in Malanville and Karimama communes. Notably, raid on Goungoun police customs post 14 Sept left two dead; one also missing after overnight attack on construction site in Loumbou-Loumbou locality 21-22 Sept. Meanwhile, ISIS 15 Sept claimed its Sahel affiliate was responsible for 1-2 July attacks in Alibori department, which left six soldiers dead; claim confirms both al-Qaeda and ISIS now active in Benin.Authorities strengthened security cooperation with Rwanda. Paris-based website Africa Intelligence 9 Sept confirmed Benin and Rwanda had entered final phase of negotiations for security cooperation deal that would include deployment from October of roughly 350 Rwandan soldiers to northern Benin. Benin same day confirmed negotiations were under way for Rwanda to provide logistical support and expertise, but denied troops deployment to northern Benin.
Suspected jihadists launched attack on northern region police station, leaving several dead. In north-western Atakora department near Burkina Faso border, suspected jihadists 26 June attacked police station in Dassari town, killing two officers and seriously injuring another; two assailants also killed.
Suspected jihadist attacks killed six members of security forces in country’s north. Armed group allegedly linked to Islamic State or al-Qaeda 11 April launched explosive device attack on armed forces convoy in Pendjari National Park in north west near Burkina Faso border; five soldiers killed and at least eight others injured. Suspected jihadist group 26 April raided police station in north-eastern municipality of Karimama (Alibori department), less than 50km from Niger border; attack killed one police officer and wounded several others. Amid series of jihadist attacks since late 2021, President Talon 6 April appointed Gen Fructueux Gbaguidi as new Armed Forces Chief.
Deadly attacks in northern wildlife reserve confirmed spillover of jihadist violence into West African coastal countries. Suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims 8 Feb launched attacks involving improvised explosive devices on two park ranger patrols in W National Park near border with Niger and Burkina Faso; eight reportedly killed, including five park rangers, one park official, one soldier and one French instructor accompanying them. Reconnaissance patrol 10 Feb hit another explosive in same area, killing one park official. France 12 Feb said it had killed 40 militants allegedly linked to 8 and 10 Feb attacks in airstrikes in Burkina Faso.
New IED attack targeted military near border with Burkina Faso. Army vehicle 6 Jan struck explosive device likely planted by al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants in Tanguiéta commune, north-western Atakora department; two soldiers killed. Military Chief of Staff Patrick Aho 21 Jan lamented “deleterious” security situation, said series of jihadist attacks since late Nov augurs “challenging year ahead”.
Series of jihadist attacks targeted country for first time in years. Al Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) claimed 1 Dec raid on security post in Porga town (Atakora department at border with Burkina Faso) that left two soldiers killed and several others wounded; deadly incident, the first claimed by JNIM in Benin, came less than 48 hours after suspected jihadists attacked army patrol in Keremou area of Alibori department (also north near Burkina Faso), leaving no casualties. Army vehicle 10 Dec struck explosive device likely planted by JNIM militants in Porga, leaving four soldiers wounded.
Protests against President Talon’s re-election bid turned deadly. Ahead of 11 April presidential election, opposition supporters 5-11 April took to streets in country’s centre, set up roadblocks on main axes in alleged attempt to prevent election material from reaching polling stations; protesters denounced Talon’s re-election bid despite earlier pledge to serve only one term, and accused him of sidelining opponents after most opposition candidates were barred from running. Amid reports of vandalism and looting, security forces 8 April opened fire on protesters, reportedly killing two in Savè town and one in Bantè town. Main coalition of opposition parties 10 April called on their supporters to boycott poll. Vote 11 April reportedly saw low turnout at around 25%, and electoral commission 13 April announced Talon’s re-election with over 86% of votes. Protests immediately broke out, with clashes between security forces and protesters reportedly leaving one dead in capital Cotonou and one in Kandi town (north) 14 April. U.S. embassy same day urged govt to “respect fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and peaceful assembly”, citing “allegations of politically motivated arrests”; also called on govt “to consult with all stakeholders […] to ensure that future elections are competitive and inclusive”. Authorities 15 April detained constitutional expert Joël Aïvo, who had been barred from running in presidential election, near Cotonou for allegedly instigating election-related violence. NGO ODHP late April said authorities had arrested over 100 people since protests started; U.S. State Dept 23 April expressed “concern” over “numerous arrests of opposition political leaders”.
Authorities arrested several suspects after alleged coup attempt against President Talon. Following allegations of attempted coup night of 25-26 June, communications minister and govt spokesperson 1 July said suspects were detained on terrorism charges and case had been brought to recently created Anti-Terrorism and Economic Crimes Court; security forces reportedly detained at least nine individuals, including senior military officers and bodyguard of former President Kérékou’s son, Colonel Montan Kérékou.
Following violent anti-govt protests in May-June, Church representatives 3 July began mediation between opposition and pro-govt parties, civil society and President Talon. Opposition insisted on dissolution of parliament and new elections. Following govt’s decision to bar opposition parties from taking part in 28 April parliamentary election, Talon 15 July met representatives of eleven pro-govt and opposition parties in bid to establish roadmap for certification of opposition parties; opposition called meeting “disappointing” and called on Talon to lift “artificial blockages”. Interior minister 18 July refused to legalise parties, insisting they required 1,155 founding members and not 120 as previously stated.
Security forces continued to disperse anti-govt protests violently reportedly killing four. Opposition continued to organise street protests after authorities barred opposition parties from taking part in 28 April parliamentary election. In Tchaorou in centre, following reported clashes between protesters and security forces 9 June, supporters of opposition leader former President Boni Yayi, under house arrest since April, 14 June set up barricades and set fire to police station; security forces used live ammunition to disperse protesters, killing at least two. In Savè in centre, security forces 15 June reportedly killed two people in attempt to dislodge protesters from barricades. Following opposition outcry, govt 17 June sent mediators to Tchaorou and Savè to engage local leaders. President Talon 20 June received local dignitaries from affected towns, denied attempts to harm his predecessor Boni Yayi, and pledged to form committee to ease tensions. Following 8 June reports of Boni Yayi’s deteriorating health and opposition’s calls for clemency, authorities 22 June ended his house arrest, allowing him to leave country for treatment.
After 28 April parliamentary elections from which govt banned opposition parties, security forces clashed with opposition protesters early May, raising risk of more intense clashes in June. In economic capital Cotonou, military 1 May deployed in Cadjéhoun district to break up protesters’ barricades. Next day security forces twice stormed residence of opposition leader and former President Boni Yayi, reportedly shooting at crowd. Opposition leaders visited Boni Yayi 4 May and in joint statement called for military’s withdrawal from Cadjéhoun, return of bodies to families and stop to arrests. Opposition 10 May said at least seven killed in violence. 83 MPs – all from factions supporting President Talon – took office 16 May amid heightened security; opposition refused to recognise parliament. Talon 20 May defended electoral process and reform of party system, accusing opposition of “lack of wisdom”; opposition 22 May rejected govt’s offer of dialogue and called for new vote. In north near border with Burkina Faso, suspected jihadists 4 May kidnapped two French tourists and killed guide; French military 10 May said it had freed both captives in operation in Burkina Faso.
Security forces cracked down on opposition protests before and after 28 April parliamentary elections which voters largely boycotted after authorities banned opposition parties from taking part; unrest could escalate in May. Electoral commission early March banned five opposition parties from participating in poll, with result that all candidates came from two parties, both allied to President Talon. NGOs documented violent repression of opposition protests 1 and 4 April. Former presidents Nicéphore Soglo and Thomas Boni Yayi 19 April called for election boycott and led protests against ban, prompting violent crackdown. Following internet blackout on election day 28 April, initial results 29 April showed two Talon-allied parties, Progressive Union and Republican Bloc, winning 47 and 36 seats respectively; voter turnout 23%. Opposition supporters protested results in economic capital Cotonou 1 May, setting up barricades; authorities dispersed crowds with tear gas and soldiers reportedly encircled home of Boni Yayi.
President Boni Yayi sworn in for second term 6 Apr following disputed March election; 3 Apr announced postponement until 30 Apr of planned legislative polls due to disputes over candidate registration.
ECOWAS expressed “deep concern” over escalating tensions following 13 March presidential election. Opposition candidate Adrien Houngbedji rejected preliminary results announced 18 March, claiming fraud; 21 March declared himself winner of poll. Police 24 March forcibly dispersed opposition protestors in economic capital Cotonou who were rejecting preliminary results. Constitutional Court 30 March declared incumbent Thomas Boni Yayi winner of election with 53% of vote, despite attempts by opposition groups to prevent announcement of results.
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