Ex-Benin President released from house arrest

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Yannick Folly, AFP | Benin's former President Boni Yayi (2nd from right) stands at the entrance of the house of Benin's former President Nicephore Soglo on April 19, 2019 in Cadjehoun district in Cotonou.
Yannick Folly, AFP | Benin’s former President Boni Yayi (2nd from right) stands at the entrance of the house of Benin’s former President Nicephore Soglo on April 19, 2019 in Cadjehoun district in Cotonou.

Former Benin president Thomas Boni Yayi left the country on Saturday for health reasons, a spokesman for his party said, after two months of political crisis following controversial elections in April.

Boni Yayi, who had been under effective house arrest in northern Benin, left the country without giving an explanation to the authorities, the party spokesman said, while stressing that he was not evading justice

In early June, Boni Yayi had received a court summons but his lawyers had refused due to his health problems and the stress of his home being surrounded by security forces.

The republican police on Saturday announced that Cadjehoun, the district of Cotonou where Boni Yayi’s house is, was “free of any police presence” following negotiations between Talon and traditional leaders and officials from Save and Tchaourou, Boni Yayi’s hometown.

His surprise departure came after weeks of tension between President Patrice Talon and his predecessor.

Protests first erupted in Benin after April 28 parliamentary elections. At least two people died in clashes with police who resorted to gunfire.

The crisis stoked concerns of an authoritarian turn in a country once seen as a democratic example in the region.

Boni Yayi had been seen as a symbol of opposition staying put in the country. He had denounced an “electoral coup” following the April polls, calling for the results to be annulled and for the people to rise up.

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