‘Red Wednesday’ Protests to Benin President: ‘Don't Touch My Constitution!’

Since July 17, 2013, every Wednesday many Beninese dress in red and gather together to say no to the revision of the constitution by the President of the Republic Boni Yayi. This revision would permit Boni Yayi to stand in the next presidential elections.

Why Red Wednesday? Dieu-Donné Hounwanou, a militant of this new movement, explains [fr]:

Cette couleur évoque le courage. Cette révision constitutionnelle par le Président Boni Yayi est opportuniste et n'inclut en aucun cas les intérêts du peuple. Par cette mobilisation, nous refusons à grand jamais la révision. Le peuple a faim et en a marre du gouvernement incapable. Mercredi rouge, tout rouge. Touche pas à ma constitution !

This color evokes courage. This constitutional revisions by President Boni Yayi is opportunistic and doesn't include under any circumstance the interests of the people. By mobilizing, we staunchly refuse this revision. The people are hungry and are tired of an incapable government. Red Wednesday, all red. Don't touch my constitution!

Les partisans du Mercredi rouge-photo:page facebook mercredi rouge

Red Wednesday supporters- photo via the facebook page Red Wednesday [fr] with their permission

The Red Wednesday [fr] movement, launched by the organization [fr] “Alternative citizen” in effect seeks to assemble all Beninese disappointed with the current government since it's inception in 2006. But also, and above all, it seeks to end the project of revising the Beninese constitution, which according to the members of the movement, would permit the president to stand in the 2016 elections and to create a new republic.

The revision of the Beninese constitution submitted in April 2013 calls for, among other things, the creation of a Court of Accounts, the initiation of laws by the people, the institutionalization of the National Autonomous Electoral Commission (CENA) or still the limitations of economic crimes.  The revised constitution would also allow the president to run one more time for president.

Born on Facebook [fr], the movement has begun to amplify on the streets of the country. T-shirt, pants, scarf, red caps, all the means are good to sustain the movement.

According to the previous Communication Minister Gaston Zossou [fr], this movement is not liked by the Boni Yayi administration as Zossou says on his Facebook account that his home was encircled by police officers on August 1, 2013, the country's independence day, to keep him from going to join the Red Wednesday protesters.

Les militaires près de la maison de Gaston Zossou. Photo: Page Facebook mercredi rouge

Soldiers near the home of Gaston Zossou. Photo: Red Wednesday Facebook page with their permission.

However, this movement is far from creating unanimity.

On one side, some question the good faith of the principle actors of the movement, such as Joseph Djogbenou, suspected of manipulating the cause with the support of businessman Patrice Talon, who is the the attorney in the case of the attempted poisoning of the head of state [fr].

And equally Gaston Zossou who blogger Alberic Gandonou qualified as the “transgressor that deceives the youth on the Internet.”

According to Gandonou, the intentions of Zossou [fr] are far from uninteresting:

En mal de publicité, Gaston Zossou dont les béninois de bonne foi se souviennent encore de la gestion désastreuse qu'il a faite des secteurs GSM et du dossier TITAN pendant qu'il était ministre de la communication, s'active sur les réseaux sociaux notamment Facebook où il anime une opposition intellectuelle fondée sur sa nostalgie des affaires de l'Etat.

Seeking publicity, Gaston Zossou, where the Beninese still recall in good faith his disastrous management of the GSM sectors and of the TITAN dossier when he was Communication Minister, is active on social networks notably Facebook where he leads an intellectual opposition based on his nostalgia for affairs of State.

He continues by saying that:

Les forces de l'ordre ont raison de veiller au grain pour empêcher que ce genre de personnage n'entraîne la jeunesse dans une aventure scabreuse.

The police are right to keep a close watch on this to avoid that this kind of character doesn't lead the youth into a scandalous adventure.

Revelations that certainly have already incited defections, such as that of Andoche Amégnissè, a great activist known on social media for his engagement among the Red Wednesday activists.

Secondly, the supporters of President Boni Yayi have imitated the movement and initiated the “White Friday” movement [fr]. The Minister of the Interior Benoît Dégla has declared [fr] that the “causes that defend the initiators of the Red Wednesday are not founded” and has qualified the movement as poison.

Le mouvement qui mène la fronde est manipulé

The movement that leads the revolt is manipulated.

On social media, the supporters of Red Wednesday have decided to to dedicate a blog to Red Wednesday [fr]. The key words #mercredirouge and #patriotes229 also compile the advice and opinions of the participants in the movement:

#BENIN The President prohibits wearing RED considering it part of the citizen movement of #MERCREDITROUGE# but he himself was wearing a Red tie. #team 229

#Mercredirouge : the governments asks GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) operators to intercept messages http://t.co/jXc63ea17A

#Bénin: A second tame “red wednesday” –  http://t.co/2XUfgt9Xi4 [fr] #MercrediRouge [fr]

Shit the small car that I drive is red, these guys are going to put me in jail #mercredirouge [fr]

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