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.
Benin flag source: Countryaah.com
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 initiative.
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.