Last week, hundreds of protestors demonstrating against controversial parliamentary polls gathered on the streets of Benin’s economic capital Cotonou.
Protestors erected makeshift barriers of burning tyres, and chanted slogans against the current President, Patrice Talon.
They also torched businesses, hurled stones, and smashed the windows of government buildings as they clashed with military leading to three deaths.
Among attacked buildings were offices of RwandAir, the flag carrier airline of Rwanda which operates direct flights from Benin.
The second version of the protest was against “Rwandanisation of Benin” in which protesters accused Talon of allegedly copying the Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
David Himbara, a Rwandan educator, author & Professor of International Development, based in Toronto, Canada wrote in medium.com, saying Kagame’s ”Rwandanisation” of Benin had hit a brick wall.
He said Benin’s opposition parties and their supporters apparently destroyed the office block housing RwandAir in Cotonou, Benin.
The destroyed block also housed the office of the country’s President Patrice Talon.
Rwandan ambassador responsible for Benin, Stanislas Kamanzi, confirmed the damage to the online Rwandan newspaper, Igihe.com.
The opposition parties are objecting to what they term the corrupt cut-and-paste Rwandanisation of Benin.
They say Benin has nothing to learn from Kagame and Rwanda with its history of genocide.
This development is very problematic for both Benin President Talon and Rwandan strongman General Paul Kagame. Talon is a great admirer of Kagame.
When Talon visited Rwanda in 2016, he declared Kagame the model for Africa: “The leadership of Rwanda will have an impact in Africa”.
By 2017, RwandAir had opened a hub in Cotonou. At the same time, the governments of Benin and Rwanda revealed plans to launch a joint venture airline.
The Benin/Rwanda joint venture airline would operate Abidjan, Brazzaville, Douala, Libreville, Bamako, Dakar and Conakry routes.
The whole thing appears to have hit a brick wall with the rejection of “Rwandanisation” of Benin.