A new National Revolutionary Council was elected by direct
election in 1980. The government established a more
pragmatic diplomatic line and relations with France were
re-established. Palm oil production continued to decline as
cotton and sugar trade increased. Unemployment remained a
serious problem, but oil deposits were discovered in the sea
off Benin, which could enable the country to become
self-sufficient in oil. There were also abundant phosphate
deposits in the Mekrou region. See TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA for TOEFL, ACT, SAT testing locations and high school codes in Benin.
But a drought that particularly affected the northern
provinces destroyed all expectations. Due to the rapid
emergence of the desert, the idea of self-sufficiency in
the food field was abandoned, including also the basic
foods, such as food. cassava, ñame, corn and sorghum.
Nigeria's attitude worsened the situation as it expelled
tens of thousands of emigrants from Benin for finally
completely closing the borders.
The economic crisis forced Benin to accept financial
orders from the IMF and introduced a tax of 10% of wages and
a 50% reduction in social benefits. Students, teachers and
officials employed in the education sector launched strikes,
demanding the payment of retained salaries and scholarships.
After popular pressure and disappointed with his own
leadership of the country, on December 8, President Kerekou
declared that he would abandon Marxism-Leninism as an
official ideology . A new constitution was introduced that
introduced a number of political and economic reforms - in
particular measures aimed at promoting the private
Prime Minister Nicéphore Soglo defeated President Kerekou
on March 24, 1991, by gaining 68% of the votes cast in the
first presidential election of the previous 30 years. In
1992, former President Kerekou received amnesty after being
accused of his political activities up to the 1972 coup
d'état and the country's political prisoners released.
Soglo continued the liberal, economic policy and
privatization programs initiated by his predecessor in 1986.
The indebtedness continued to swallow a large portion of the
annual revenue - in 1992, the payment of the foreign debt
accounted for 27% of the country's revenue.
The 100% devaluation of the CFA franc, decreed by France
in January 1994, had dire consequences for Benin's economy.
Gross domestic product increased by 4% annually and cotton
exports increased, but the cuts in public spending -
including should have limited inflation - only led to
drastic cuts in social programs.
In July 1994, Soglo assumed the leadership of Benin's
Rebirth Party, founded by his wife Rosine in 1992. The
rebirth party was defeated by the opposition Democratic
Renewal Party in the March 1995 parliamentary and local
elections. lowering domestic prices and curbing inflation,
while refusing to raise wages.
Soglo's "clan style" and the tendencies of his family to
take power did not only irritate Benin's political class. At
the March 1996 election, the former head of the Marxist
regime, Kerekou, won a slim victory over Soglo. The World
Bank , which believed that the economic reforms in Benin
could only show modest results, in April refused to
renegotiate a $ 98 million loan that the National Assembly
had rejected in late 1995.
From August to October 1997, swine fever caused the
losses of 60,000 pigs, about 10% of the total. In November
of that year, the unions launched a 72-hour strike to warn
the government of the discontent with the Finance Act that
had been passed for the coming year. The social unrest
reached a tentative peak in February 1998, when the 5
largest unions launched a strike against «the Asocial
Finance Act, the IMF dictatorships, the World Bank and the
EU , against widespread corruptionand President Kerekou.
Faced with this popular opposition, the government decided
to increase public spending by $ 10 million, which the
unions still thought was inadequate. They therefore called
for a boycott. In January 1999, the IMF provided a
low-interest loan of DKK 14 million. US $ to the country.
In the March 1999 parliamentary elections, 56 political
parties participated, but the incumbent president won. Prime
Minister Adrien Houngdedji resigned but was not replaced by
another. The Prime Minister's office is therefore handled by
Kérékou. In January 2000, the president published details of
a conspiracy against his government among army officers and
former members of the regional peacekeepers. Former members
of the peace forces conducted a coup in December 1999 in
Côte d'Ivoire, and a similar coup attempt in Mali had just
been averted. The soldiers there had criticized delays in
the payment of their salaries.
In July 2000, Benin came under the Expanded Initiative
for Highly indebted Countries, and thus was entitled to a
reduction in its foreign debt of US $ 460 million.