About fifteen members of the Beninese military were arrested during the night of June 25–26 on suspicion of attempting a coup d’état, Jeune Afrique reports. The details of the incident have not been made public yet, but the suspects were arrested and brought before the Court for the Suppression of Economic Offenses and Terrorism. Among the accused is the cabinet director for the Ministry of Defense, Colonel Montan Kérékou, who previously served as the bodyguard of former president Mathieu Kérékou’s son.
This would be the second mass arrest made this year in connection with a destabilization effort. In mid-February, twenty people, including ten soldiers, were arrested in Cotonou as part of an investigation into an alleged attempt to destabilize the country.
These are the first significant arrests made by the newly created National Guard
President Patrice Talon characterized the alleged coup attempt as an effort by various political forces to frustrate his efforts to “modernize, “clean up,” and “reform the totality of the state body.” But it can also be seen as an expression of discontent with the current government—in the April 2019 legislative elections, opposition parties were banned from taking part. Only two blocs, both loyal to Talon, participated in the elections, which has given him total control of the assembly.
What makes this latest action remarkable is that it is the first significant arrests made by the newly created National Guard, proposed in January 2020 and approved by the Beninese legislature on June 23. The National Guard functions as the fourth branch of the Beninese military alongside the army, air force, and navy.