The history of Benin

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Originally, the land of present Benin was occupied by several kingdoms. The most prominent were called Danhome (Abomey), Xogbonou (Porto-Novo), Allada, Nikki, Kouande, Kandi ….

The first rulers of Abomey and Porto-Novo come from the Adja-Fon migration, coming from neighboring Togo (Tado). The other peoples come from the current Nigeria, Niger or Burkina-Faso. Thus, the country was once home to ancient and brilliant civilizations, built around these kingdoms: city-states.

These well-structured political entities were equipped with functional urban centers. They had developed a local trade, based as early as the 17th century on the slave trade, then on that of the oil palm after the abolition of slave trade in 1807.
This economy of the trade favored the installation, along the coast (nicknamed “Coast of the slaves”), of commercial counters controlled by the English, the Danes, the Portuguese and some French. In 1704, France was allowed to build a port in Ouidah while in 1752, the Portuguese discovered Porto-Novo.

In 1863, the first French protectorate was established with King Toffa of Porto-Novo seeking help against the claims of the king of Abomey and attacks of the English settled in Lagos. The same year, Glèlè, king of Abomey, authorizes the French to settle in Cotonou. In 1882, the ruler of the kingdom of Porto-Novo signed a new protectorate agreement with France that sent a “French resident” to assist the king.

In 1894, the French, winners of local kings, created the colony of Dahomey and dependencies. The territory takes the name of the kingdom most preponderant and the most resistant to foreign occupation: Danhome with his legendary king Béhanzin.

Proclaimed Republic on December 4, 1958, Benin acceded to international sovereignty on August 1, 1960, under the name of Dahomey. The country is known for “the exemplary” of its democratic process started in February 1990, following the National Conference of the active forces. Since then, several presidential, legislative and local elections have sanctioned the devolution of political power. In fifteen years, political liberalism has generated three alternations at the top of the state.

He really knew two waves of democratization, crowned with elections from which the rulers came. The first dates back to the dawn of independence with the general elections of December 1960. This period remains marked by the unfinished mandate of the President of the Republic, swept away by a military coup in 1963. In addition, the Political life was suffering from monolithism, because very quickly the new president inspired the merger of political parties into one official: the Dahome Party of Unity (PDU). The second wave of democratization has been underway since February 1990. Its specificity is that it is long-lasting and allows a stability of democratic institutions.

More generally, the contemporary political history of the country can be sequenced in three major times: the time of political instability, the military-Marxist era, and the time of Democratic Renewal.

The time of political instability marked the first twelve years of independence. A series of coups d’etat followed until 1970, giving the country the name of “sick child of Africa”. The founding act of this instability is the putsch of Colonel Christophe Soglo who overthrew on October 28, 1963 Hubert MAGA, the father of independence, democratically elected.

Indeed, with the new Constitution adopted in November 1960, the general elections, held on December 11 following, consecrated the maintenance of Hubert Maga to power. But taking advantage of the social unrest in the country, the army took power in 1963. Three months later, the management of the country was entrusted to a civilian government.

Sourou Migan Apithy became President of the Republic and Justin Ahomadégbé his Prime Minister and Vice President. A new constitution was adopted by referendum on January 5, 1964. But these two leaders of the government could not match their violins. On December 1, 1965, the army forced them to resign. However, civilians retained power. It fell to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Taïrou Congacou. Unhappy with his governance, Christophe Soglo, now a general, again propelled the army to the front of the stage.

On December 22, 1965, he proclaimed himself President of the Republic de facto. He was overthrown in turn by the young military officers on December 17, 1967. Commander Maurice Kouandété, mastermind of the coup d’etat, entrusted the lieutenant-colonel Alphonse Alley three days after the destiny of the country to the chief of the army.

In May 1968, presidential elections were organized by the officers to hand over the scepter of Dahomey to a civilian authority. However, the three traditional political leaders of the country who were Hubert Maga, Sourou Migan Apithy and Justin Ahomadégbé are not allowed to run. They called for a boycott of these elections.

In their absence, a stranger was carried by the people. Only the elected candidate, Dr Basile Adjou Moumouni, gave the soldiers grist. As an international official of the World Health Organization in Brazzaville, the elected head of state was not a political seraglio and did not reassure the military. The latter certainly harbored concerns about the maintenance of their privileges.

In doing so, the military pretended to have low turnout to cancel the result of these elections. In the wake of pressure, on July 17, 1968, they installed a replacement civilian in the Presidency: Émile Derlin Zinsou.
The new head of state, formerly elected to the Assembly of the French Union, was in fact the fourth largest political leader in the country. Accustomed to the Dahomean political life, he made the consensus within the Military Revolutionary Committee (CMR).

The old demons still living in the Army, she was inviting herself again in the spotlight. Colonel Maurice Kouandete ejected Emile Zinsou from power on December 12, 1969. As usual, he did not run the country. He entrusted the management to another officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Emile de Souza. The military undertook in May 1970 to leave the head of the Executive. To ward off the fate of instability, a new formula was found: a rotating presidency was established. It consisted of the formation of a government led in turn by the three main civil political actors: Maga, Apithy and Ahomadégbé.

The three political leaders of the country, solidly anchored to an electoral region, should succeed each other to the highest office every two years. At the end of Hubert Maga’s term in May 1972, Justin Ahomadégbé took over. But the formula did not take long. On October 26, 1972, the Army again seized power, with Battalion Chief Mathieu Kérékou. He swept away this triumvirate, mocked as a “three-headed monster”. This is the beginning of the second strong political time of the country.

The second military-Marxist period spread from this seizure of power to the February 1990 National Conference. In 1975, the military government made decisive strategic and ideological choices. The Republic of Dahomey is renamed the People’s Republic of Benin. She proclaimed her adherence to the socialist economy of Marxist-Leninist orientation. The country was draped with a dictatorial screed. Several opponents are murdered, tortured and exiled. From the middle of the 1980s, power was cornered by an unprecedented economic situation and derived from a series of factors: international gloom, mismanagement, concussion, and ineptitude.

In bankruptcy, the state stopped paying salaries. Faced with this situation fueled by the ideologues of the Communist Party of Dahomey, the street rumbled through protests. Disarmed, the military-Marxist junta resigned itself to carrying out political, economic, and social reforms. On December 6, 1989, she abandoned socialism as the ideological orientation of the state and convened a national conference. Moreover, the political convicts were amnestied and could return to participate in these “States-General” announced for the month of February.

The time of the Democratic Renewal, consecrated by this High Mass of the living forces of the Nation, is still in progress. From February 19 to 28, 1990, the National Conference brought together more than half a thousand delegates from different parts of the country to the PLM Alédjo Hotel under the presidency of Monsignor Isidore de Souza.

Two main decisions have emerged. The first introduced economic and political liberalism, democracy and the rule of law. The second appointed a Prime Minister to assist General Mathieu Kérékou maintained the presidency, but emptied of most of his prerogatives. A wind of democratic renewal enveloped Benin.

The Prime Minister appointed by the National Conference, Nicéphore Soglo, administrator of the World Bank, is responsible for leading the government of the transitional period. This government’s mission is to implement the main measures leading to the adoption of a new Constitution and the organization of general elections. Unlike the other transitional experiences of the countries of the sub-region, the two principal actors of this period, the president Mathieu Kérékou and the Prime Minister Nicéphore Soglo, were able to play loyally their partition and to grant their violins during the twelve months of its duration.
On 11 December 1990, a new fundamental law, that of the Fifth Republic, was promulgated after its adoption by referendum. It reflects the decisions of the National Conference. It is about democracy and the rule of law. It opts for a republican presidential regime with separation of the three powers: the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary.

Three months later, the legislative and presidential elections sanction the end of the transition period. The new, unicameral National Assembly is elected for four years. It is chaired by Master Adrien Houngbedji, lawyer and former political exile.
In the second round of presidential elections, Nicéphore Soglo triumphs over Mathieu Kérékou. But in 1996, he had to give up his presidential seat to Mathieu Kérékou at the end of the presidential elections. Five years later, Beninese once again put their trust in General Mathieu Kérékou.

In 2006, in the absence of Mathieu Kérékou and Nicephore Soglo, the political game becomes more open. The first round of elections was held on March 5, 2006. Twenty-six candidates ran for the highest office: regulars and newcomers. Among them, Adrien Houngbedji and Bruno Amoussou, both former ministers of Kerekou and former presidents of the National Assembly. Against all odds, it is Boni Yayi, portrayed by his opponents as the emanation of “a spontaneous generation in politics”, which steals the show from them. He took the final decision with more than 75% of the votes cast. The following year, his supporters gathered in the Cauris Forces for an Emerging Benin (FCBE) won the legislative elections. In the wake, the president of the elected National Assembly Mathurin Nago is from this movement.

Two main actors emerge within the Beninese political class: the President of the Republic Boni Yayi and his challenger of the second round, Adrien Houngbedji, who acts as the “main opponent” to power.
In 2011, Boni Yayi is re-elected for a new five-year term as President of the Republic from the first round of presidential elections.

In March 2016, the people of Benin chose their president Patrice TALON at the end of the second round of the presidential election. On April 06, 2016, President Patrice TALON takes the oath and takes the reins of power.

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