Eventually, after the 1970 election which became violent, the
three leading figures in Benin agreed to rule as a presidential council but were
overthrown in 1972 by Lt. Col. Mathieu Kerekou who proclaimed it as a Marxist
State and renamed it the People's Republic of Benin on 30th November 1975.
Kerekou placed nearly all economic activity under state control
which effectively cut off supplies of foreign investment and the country was
reduced to taking nuclear waste to process from France to pay its bills.
As the economy sank and professionals left the country in search
of a better life, things came to a head in 1989 when the Marxist regime ran out
of funds to pay the army amongst others. With the collapse of the banking system and with it the Benin
economy, Kerekou was forced to renounce Marxism and arranged elections in which
he was defeated in 1991 by Nicephore Soglo.
To his credit Kerekou abided by the peoples' decision and
became the first black African president to voluntarily give up office after an
It was perhaps this that saw him re-elected in 1996 until
2006 when he was succeeded by Thomas Boni Yayi, although there were claims of