People’s Republic of Benin | Wikipedia audio article

The People’s Republic of Benin (French: République
populaire du Bénin; sometimes translated as Benin Popular Republic or Popular Republic
of Benin) was a socialist state located in the Gulf of Guinea on the African continent,
which would become present-day Benin. The People’s Republic was established on 30
November 1975, after the 1972 coup d’état in the Republic of Dahomey. It effectively lasted until 1 March 1990,
with the adoption of a new constitution, and the abolition of Marxism-Leninism in the nation
in 1989.==History==
On 26 October 1972, the army led by Commander Mathieu Kérékou overthrew the government,
suspended the constitution and dissolved both the National Assembly and the Presidential
Council. On 30 November 1972, it released the keynote
address of New Politics of National Independence. The territorial administration was reformed,
mayors and deputies replacing traditional structures (village chiefs, convents, animist
priests, etc.). On 30 November 1974, before an assembly of
stunned notables in the city of Abomey, he gave a speech proclaiming the formal accession
of his government to Marxism-Leninism. He soon aligned Dahomey with the Soviet Union. The People’s Revolutionary Party of Benin,
designed as a vanguard party, was created on the same day as the country’s only legal
party. The first year of the Marxist government was
marked by purges in the state apparatus. President Kérékou condemned and sometimes
executed, various representatives of the former political regime, and some of its own employees:
Captain Michel Aipké, Interior minister, was sentenced to death and executed on a charge
of adultery with the wife of the head of state. He was shot, and activists invited to file
past his body. On 30 November 1975, with the first anniversary
of the speech of Abomey, Kérékou changed the country’s name to Benin, named after the
Benin Empire that had once flourished in neighboring Nigeria (south-central). The National Day was set for 30 November referring
to three days of 1972, 1974, and 1975, dubbed by the regime the Three Glorious.==Attempted coup==
In January 1977, an attempted coup, called Operation Shrimp, led by the mercenary Bob
Denard and supported by France, Gabon, and Morocco failed and it helped to harden the
regime, which was officially moving toward the way of a government-political party. The constitution was adopted on 26 August
of that year, Article 4 stating: People’s Republic of Benin, the road to development
is socialism. Its philosophical basis is Marxism-Leninism
to be applied in a lively and creative manner to the realities of Benin. All activities of national social life in
the People’s Republic of Benin are organized in this way under the leadership of the revolution
of Benin, detachment vanguard of exploited and oppressed masses, leading core of the
Beninese people as a whole and its revolution. A basic law established an all-powerful national
assembly.The opposition was muzzled, and political prisoners remained in detention for years
without trial. The elections were held under a system of
unique applications. Campaigns were conducted for rural development
and improving education. The government also pursued a policy of anti-religious
inspiration, in order to root out witchcraft, forces of evil, and retrograde beliefs (West
African Vodun, a traditional religion well established in the South, was prohibited,
which did not prevent President Kérékou, a few years later, from having his personal
marabout, during the period in which he identified as Muslim). Benin received only modest support from other
communist countries, hosting several teams from cooperating Cuba, East Germany, the USSR,
and North Korea.==Decline==
Benin tried to implement extensive programs of economic and social development without
getting results. Mismanagement and corruption undermined the
country’s economy. The industrialization strategy by the internal
market of Benin caused an escalation of foreign debt. Between 1980 and 1985, the annual service
of its external debt raised from 20 to 49 million, while its GNP dropped from 1.402
to 1.024 billion and the stock of debt exploded from 424 to 817 million. The three former presidents, Hubert Maga,
Sourou Migan Apithy, and Justin Ahomadegbe (imprisoned in 1972) were released in 1981. A new constitution was adopted in 1978, and
the first elections for the National Revolutionary Assembly were held in 1979. Kérékou was elected unopposed to a four-year
term as president in 1980 and reelected in 1984. As was the case in most Marxist-Leninist states,
the National Revolutionary Assembly was nominally the highest source of state power, but in
practice did little more than rubber-stamp decisions already made by Kérékou and the
PRPB. In 1986, the economic situation in Benin had
become critical: the system, ironically, already dubbed the Marxism-Beninism, inherited the
nickname of laxism-Leninism. A popular running gag said that the number
of supporters convinced by the regime did not exceed twelve. Agriculture was disorganized, the Commercial
Bank of Benin ruined, and communities were largely paralyzed due to lack of budget. On the political front, the violations of
human rights, with cases of torture of political prisoners, contributed to social tension:
the church and the unions opposed more openly the regime. Plans for the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) imposed in 1987 draconian economic measures: 10% additional levy on wages, hiring freezes,
and compulsory retirements. On June 16, 1989, the People’s Republic of
Benin signed with the IMF a first adjustment plan, in exchange for enhanced structural
adjustment facility (ESAF) of 21.9 million Special Drawing Rights of the IMF. Were planned: a reduction in public expenditure
and tax reform, privatizations, reorganization or liquidation of public enterprises, a policy
of liberalization and the obligation to enter into that borrowing at concessional rates. The IMF agreement set off a massive strike
of students and staff, requiring the payment of their salaries and their scholarships. On 22 June 1989, the country signed a rescheduling
agreement first with the Paris Club, for a total of $199 million and Benin was granted
a 14.1% reduction of its debt.==Overturning of the revolution==
The social and political turmoil, catastrophic economic situation and fall of the communist
regimes in Eastern Europe led President Kérékou to agree to bring down his regime. In February 1989, a pastoral letter signed
by eleven bishops of Benin expressed its condemnation of the People’s Republic. On 7 December 1989, Kérékou took the lead
and surprised the people disseminating an official statement announcing the abandonment
of Marxism-Leninism, the liquidation of the Political Bureau, and the closure of the party’s
central committee. The Government accepted the establishment
of a National Conference bringing together representatives of different political movements. The Conference opened on 19 February 1990:
Kérékou expressed himself in person on 21 February, publicly recognising the failure
of his policy. The work of the Conference decided to draft
a new constitution and the establishment of a democratic process provided by a provisional
government entrusted to a prime minister. Kérékou remained head of state on a temporary
basis. Kérékou said on 28 February to the attention
of the Conference: “I accept all the conclusions of your work.”A transitional government was
set up in 1990, paving the way for the return of elections and a multi-party system. The new constitution was adopted by referendum
on December 1990. The official name of Benin was preserved for
the country, which became the Republic of Benin. Prime Minister Nicephore Soglo won 67.7% of
the votes and defeated Kérékou in the presidential election in March 1991. Kérékou accepted the election results and
left his office. He became president again by winning the election
in 1996, having meanwhile dropped all references to Marxism and atheism and having become an
evangelical pastor. His return to power involved no recovery of
a Marxist-Leninist regime in Benin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *