Beninese head of state Patrice Talon met his predecessor and fierce opponent Boni Yayi on Wednesday, September 22, at the Marina Palace. The two cold men had not seen each other since 2016. ECOWAS had already tried to mediate, but Boni Yayi boycotted the meeting. On Wednesday, they saw each other face to face.
Boni Yayi arrived a little before 11 o’clock, in the rain, wearing a white boubou, a traditional hat and a black mask. Patrice Talon welcomed him on the 3rd floor. And from the beginning, the atmosphere was cordial and Patrice Talon was the author of flattering comments. Mr President, I am pleased to welcome you here, where you have spent ten years of your life in Benin. I was waiting for this moment, everything Beninese too. I am moved and very proud, he says.
Then there were some very casual sequences, for a moment,Patrice Talon whispers something in Boni Yayi’s ear. The latter repeats it to journalists: “President Talon says I’m put on my clothes” and laughter erupted in the room. Their last meeting was in 2016. On Wednesday, tête-à-tête lasted fifty minutes.
“There are no deep problems between Patrice Talon and me” At the end of this interview, the two presidents would speak, but only Boni Yayi spoke. The former president read a note: “We only talked about the Beninese people, the image of our country and the relaxation”. And he adds: “There are no deep problems between Patrice Talon and I. To achieve (this situation), I asked the President, who listened to me, the release of political prisoners and prisoners of public opinion.”
He mentioned the names of Reckya Madougou and Joël Aïvo, the end of political arrests, the return of political refugees and also mentioned Sébastien Ajavon, Komi Koutché and others. Finally, he called for dialogue and regular consultation with former presidents. Then Yayi Boni concluded: “I asked, but it is President Talon who decides.”