Benin’s Main Opposition Leader Sentenced to 20 Years in Jail

Ms. Reckya Madougou, the leader of Benin’s largest opposition party and first female presidential candidate has been arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison.


Despite an immense crowd that tried to form a human shield for protection, Madougou was illegally arrested by military forces directed by President Patrice Talon on Saturday.


Reckya is facing charges of terrorism. Benin was long praised for its thriving multi-party democracy in a troubled region.


But critics say the West African state’s democracy has steadily eroded under Talon, a 63-year-old cotton magnate first elected in 2016.


Some opposition leaders have fled the country while others were disqualified from running in elections, or targeted for investigation.


Joel Aivo, a professor who had been held for eight months, was found guilty on Tuesday of plotting against the state and money laundering.


Aivo, who was also barred from running in the election, was arrested on April 15, four days after the ballot that saw Talon returned to power.


The ambush also targeted other opposition candidates meeting in the capital, including Joel “The Professor” Aivo and Moise Kerekou, son of President Mathieu Kerekou. Both opposition leaders were able to escape.