Former Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi, who has been in exile for several months and political opponent of current head of state Patrice Talon, arrived in Cotonou on Sunday, several of his relatives said on Monday.
« President Bono Yayi has returned to the fold and is doing very well, » Eugène Azatassou, close to the former president and political leader of the Cowrie Forces for an Emerging Benin (FCBE), the party of AFP, told AFP. ‘former president.
« He returned to the country by plane with one of his sons. He went through the lounge of honor (from the airport) and he was well received by the guards, ”confirmed another close to the former head of state, on condition of anonymity, stressing that he was in the country for “the holidays”.
« I do not know when they will leave, » said the same source.
The place of his exile is unclear, and has not been officially disclosed, although the local press regularly cites neighboring Togo.
In the residential district of Cadjehoun, in the center of Cotonou and where the residence of the former president is located, no crowds were visible on Monday morning. There was also no police presence, said an AFP journalist.
« Surprise »
« The president surprised us all, or we would have gone to greet him and escort him to his house, » said one of his neighbors.
Boni Yayi was the head of Benin from April 2006 to April 2016, but was forced to leave the country last June, after weeks of post-electoral tensions.
On May 1, a few days after the parliamentary elections to which the opposition was unable to present candidates, hundreds of people gathered around the former president’s home, fearing that he would be arrested for having asked his successor, President Talon, to stop the electoral process and the population to rise up.
The army and the police finally dislodged the demonstrators by opening fire on the crowd and killing several people.
His home had been under siege for several weeks by the police.
The former leader has since lived in exile but returned to the country in mid-November with a delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).