Republic of Benin’s ‘father of democracy’, former President Mathieu Kerekou is dead. He was one of Africa’s longest serving presidents.
The man highly celebrated as helping to usher in multi-party democracy in Africa died at the age of 82.
The former president had two spells of almost 30 years in office – his first spell was in 1972 when he also earned the nickname “chameleon”, when he adopted the Marxist ideology.
Owing to the economic challenges facing the country at that period of time he was forced to adopt a multi-party democracy, and organised elections which he lost in 1991.
His concession to defeat in 1991election proved to the West African neighbours, as well as the African states that, a peaceful transitional change from one government to another government is possible in Africa.
He became the first West African leader to admit defeat in an election, as a result of which he was dubbed father of democracy in Africa. Beninoise and the entire world will always remember him.
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.
Current president, Thomas Boni Yayi, described the former president as a great man, thereby declaring a week of official mourning.
His ideological shift, from hardline Marxist-Leninist to believing in multi-party elections, was in part due to the poor state of Benin’s economy at the end of the 1980s, but also because of a change in global politics as the Cold War came to an end.


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