Benin’s ‘fa­ther of democ­racy’ Mathieu Kerekou dies at 82

Daily Trust - - INTERNATIONAL -

Benin’s for­mer Pres­i­dent Mathieu Kerekou, the man hailed as help­ing to usher in multi-party democ­racy in Africa, has died at the age of 82.

Mr Kerekou had two spells as pres­i­dent to­talling nearly 30 years, first com­ing to power as the head of a Marx­ist regime in 1972.

But he then ac­cepted the idea of multi-party democ­racy and or­gan­ised elec­tions, which he lost in 1991.

He be­came the first West African leader to ad­mit de­feat in an elec­tion.

Cur­rent Pres­i­dent Thomas Boni Yayi de­scribed the for­mer pres­i­dent as a great man and de­clared a week of of­fi­cial mourn­ing.

Mr Kerekou aban­doned Marx­ism-Lenin­ism as Benin’s of­fi­cial ide­ol­ogy in De­cem­ber 1989. He was un­der pres­sure be­cause of the dif­fi­cult eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion and faced a se­ries of protests.

He stepped down in 1991 af­ter los­ing to Ni­cephore Soglo in a multi-party poll, but re­turned to power in 1996 hav­ing beaten Mr Soglo at the polls and then went on to win a sec­ond and fi­nal five-year term in 2001.

Mathieu Kerekou came to power a sec­ond time af­ter win­ning the 1996 elec­tion

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