President Talon received Wednesday at the presidential palace in Cotonou the former Head of State Boni Yayi, five years after their last meeting, a sign of a possible appeasement between the power and the opposition in Benin.
Thomas Boni Yayi, arrived smiling and relaxed in the palace where he was received by President Patrice Talon, who succeeded him in 2016. The two men, long considered political rivals, met for an hour.
“Many believe that there is a deep problem between Talon and Yayi, but there is no deep problem,” Boni Yayi told the press after their meeting. “I made proposals to the president who listened to me, notably that political arrests be stopped to allow all our exiled compatriots (…) to return home,” he added.
The two men had not met for five years, tensions between them having been rekindled at the time of the 2019 legislative elections.
The former Head of State Boni Yayi (2006-2016) had gone to live abroad after his home in Cotonou had been surrounded for nearly two months by security forces, following the legislative elections from which the opposition had been excluded.
Tensions with the opposition were further heightened in April 2021, during the presidential election, in which President Talon was re-elected with more than 86% of the vote. Having come to power in 2016, Patrice Talon is both hailed for having set his country on the path to development and decried for having taken an authoritarian turn.