Benin: Conflict Insights

The purpose of this report is to provide analysis and recommendations to national, regional and continental decision makers in the implementation of peace and security-related instruments. The Republic of Benin is a coastal country located in West Africa alongside the Gulf of Guinea with a population of 15.7 million comprised of diverse ethnicities (about 10 groups dominated by Fon-38.4% and Aja-15.1%) and religions (majorly Muslims-27.7%- and Roman Catholic-25.5% followed by 5 others). The country achieved independence in 1960 similarly to most of the ex-French colonies in Africa. Its post-independence period was marked by political instabilities having experienced five unconstitutional changes of power including military coups (in 1960 and 1972) and being under a dictatorial communist regime known as the Republique Populaire du Bénin. However, Benin was able to overcome the political and socio-economic challenges it faced in the aftermath of the communist regime by building a democratic culture and strong institutions over 31 years. Yet, recent political development, particularly the ruling party’s attempt to muzzle political contenders through intimidation and obtuse arrests, have pushed the country’s democratic advancements back. In addition, Benin is surrounded by growing security threats from its neighbours: violent extremism and transnational organised crime from Burkina Faso, Niger-in a fragile three-border region- and Nigeria. If the spill over therefrom remains with limited impacts currently, a default of proactive and coordinated response may turn the country into a conflict-prone territory.

1 September 2021