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Benin leader dismisses government

COTONOU, Benin — President Thomas Boni Yayi already has accused the country’s richest man of plotting with the leader’s niece and personal physician to poison him. Now he’s sacked his entire government as he faces a growing protest movement accusing him of seeking to remove term limits set by the constitution.

In this tiny West African country, pressure is mounting and analysts say the sense of uncertainty is deepening as residents enter their second month of holding weekly rallies. The tensions risk undermining Benin’s reputation as a stable democracy in a tumultuous corner of the world.

Last month, Secretary of State John Kerry had praised the country as ‘‘a democratic leader in West Africa.’’ In March, officials here announced they had thwarted a second coup attempt.


The recent government reshuffle suggests Yayi is ‘‘panicking,’’ said Lydie Boka, manager of the France-based risk analysis firm Strategico, which has been monitoring Benin since 2005, the year before Yayi came to power.

For five consecutive Wednesdays, hundreds of people in the capital have donned bright red T-shirts, caps, and headbands to signal their solidarity with the so-called Red Wednesday movement, whose slogan is ‘‘Don’t touch my constitution.’’ Yayi has talked about the need for constitutional reform but has not laid out any plans to change term limits that would bar him from running again in 2016. However, critics are convinced that is his goal.

Associated Press