Supporters of an opposition candidate in Benin’s February 28, 2016 presidential polls had their permit to organise a rally withdrawn by the authorities in favour of a rival rally in support of the candidate backed by the government.
Timothée Biaou, mayor of Sanvè (the town in which the rally was to be held) withdrew the permit granted to supporters of Sebastien Ajavon to hold a rally on January 24, 2016, while allowing the supporters of Lionel Zinsou (the Prime Minister) to proceed with their rally.
The MFWA correspondent in Benin reported that Biaou’s reason was that two political parties were both given permission to meet the same day and at the same venue –Centre Artisanal de Sanvè, hence the need to intervene.
Biaou added that the ban “was informed by public order concerns” because the Forces Cauris pour un Benin Emergent (FCBE), the presidential movement that supports the presidential candidate Lionel Zinsou, were also holding their meeting.
Supporters of Ajavon, however believe their rights were violated as they were denied access to the venue after they had prepared for their meeting.
“We have been prevented from expressing an independent choice,” Idrissou Abdou, a former mayor and a supporter of Ajavon told our correspondent.
He said about 60 men from different security agencies, had surrounded the venue to prevent them from accessing it. The caretaker of the venue also dismantled tents the group had erected the day before.
The MFWA believes that the granting of permits for rival rallies on same day and at the same venue should not have happened in the first place. We call on the authorities in Benin to work closely with the political organisations and give equal treatment to all to ensure peaceful campaigning and successful elections in the country.