Wed, 19 Feb 2020

Police in Benin said on Friday they had arrested the alleged instigator of clashes between the opposition and security forces that left two dead in the restive bastion of the country's ex-leader.

Fresh violence hit the town of Save in central Benin last week. Police said six officers were wounded by gunshots, prompting them to return fire, leaving two people dead and others wounded.

Save is a stronghold of former president Thomas Boni Yayi, who went into exile last year after being held under de-facto house arrest.

Violence first erupted in Save district last June following controversial legislative elections in which opposition parties were unable to take part.

Police said Faleti Biaou Ayodele Prudence was arrested after releasing videos online calling on the local population to rise up and demand the departure of soldiers deployed in Save.

Police accused the 30-year-old of threatening the authorities and "using automatic weapons".

"This vermin was flushed from his hiding place on Thursday," police chief Soumalia Yaya said.

Former French colony Benin has typically been seen as among West Africa's most stable democracies.

But it has been facing a political crisis since the disputed parliamentary elections sparked mass protests.

President Patrice Talon, who won office in 2016, has been accused of cracking down on dissent and forcing his political rivals into exile in a bid to tighten his grip over the country.

The government dispatched a mediation mission to Save after the latest violence that reported back to Talon on Monday.

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