Kerekou, Mathieu


Kerekou, Mathieu
(1933– )
   Born in northwest Benin (formerly the French colony of Dahomey), Africa, Kerekou became president of Dahomey and oversaw its transformation into the avowedly MarxistLeninist People’s Republic of Benin. Kerekou had joined the French colonial army, transferred to the newly formed Dahomean army in 1961 and rose to become lieutenant colonel. He seized power in a coup on 26 October 1972 but only after two years was Benin declared a People’s Republic and committed to Marxism–Leninism. The key ideological tenets of the regime as outlined by Kerekou were national economic independence through the placing of the means of production in the hands of the state, the transformation of society into a harmonious alliance of workers and peasants, realignment of foreign policy to side with communist countries, and a political structure based on democratic centralism. In 1975 the country’s name was changed to Benin and the People’s Revolutionary Party (Parti de la Révolution Populaire) of Benin was created. In 1977 the fundamental law of Benin was issued describing the organization of the state and the evolutionary stages through which it was passing on the way to the final socialist revolution. More pragmatic nationalist than ideologically socialist, more rhetoric than reality and more authoritarian than democratic, Kerekou’s regime showed itself to be increasingly incompetent and corrupt. Eventually, in 1990, Kerekou was stripped of his powers and a civilian government installed.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

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