Kerekou, internal dissent, military coup, Marxism-Leninism, economic assistance
Beninís political history since independence has been checkered. The first president, Hubert Maga, was ousted in 1963 by the army commander, and a series of four coups followed in the next six years. In 1970 a three-member presidential commission took power and suspended the constitution. The members, including former president Maga, were to serve as president successively. Maga held office first, succeeded in 1972 by Justin Ahomadegbe. Later that year, however, Major Mathieu Kerekou seized power, ending the commission form of government. In November 1975 the country was renamed Benin. A new constitution, making the Peopleís Revolutionary Party of Benin the sole political party, was promulgated in 1977. Three former presidents, detained since the coup of 1972, were released in 1981.
Elected president by the National Revolutionary Assembly in 1980 and reelected in 1984, Kerekou survived a military coup attempt four years later. Faced with economic problems and internal dissent, he abandoned Marxism-Leninism as the official ideology in late 1989. A new constitution, adopted in 1990, paved the way for the establishment of a multiparty democracy in Benin. The next year, in the countryís first free elections in 30 years, Kerekou was defeated by Prime Minister Nicephore Soglo. Soglo attacked Beninís struggling economy by instituting austerity measures and promoting free-market economics. While the nationís economy improved slowly, Sogloís personal popularity sagged. In March 1996 elections Soglo was defeated by Kerekou.
Kerekou, who renounced his autocratic, Marxist-Leninist past, further liberalized Beninís economy and secured economic assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN). He was reelected in March 2001.
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