Benin profile

A chronology of key events:

1946 - Dahomey becomes an overseas territory of France.

Benin coup leader Col Soglo Army chief Christophe Soglo led a coup not long after independence. He deposed another leader a few years later

1958 - Dahomey becomes self-governing, within the French Community.

Independence

1960 - Dahomey gains independence and is admitted to the UN.

1960 - Elections won by the Parti Dahomeen de L'Unite. Party leader Hubert Maga becomes country's first president.

1963 - President Maga is deposed in a coup led by the army's Chief of Staff, Colonel Christophe Soglo.

1963 - Dahomey joins the IMF.

1964 - Sourou-Migan Apithy is elected president.

1965 - General Soglo forces the president to step down and a provisional government is formed. In December he assumes power.

1967 - Major Maurice Kouandete leads a coup. Lt Col Alphonse Alley replaces Gen Soglo as head of state.

1968 - The military regime nominates Dr Emile-Derlin Zinsou as president.

1969 - Lt Col Kouandete deposes President Zinsou.

Benin's long-term president

Benin's Mathieu Kerekou (2004)

Mathieu Kerekou seized power in 1972 and was the country's leader until 1991. Voters returned him to power in 1996

'Magical' leader

1970 - Presidential elections are held but abandoned. Power is ceded to a presidential council consisting of Ahomadegbe, Apithy and Maga, who received almost equal support in the abandoned poll. Maga is the first of the three to serve as president with a two-year term.

1972 - Ahomadegbe assumes the presidency from Maga for the next two-year term.

1972 - Major Mathieu Kerekou seizes power; the presidential council members are detained.

1973 - The Conseil National Revolutionnaire (CNR) is created. Representatives are taken from across the country.

Dahomey becomes Benin

1975 - November - Dahomey is renamed the People's Republic of Benin.

1975 - The Parti de la Revolution Populaire du Benin (PRPB) is established as the country's only political party.

1977 - The CNR adopts a "Loi Fondamentale", setting out new government structures.

1979 - Elections are held to the new Assemblee Nationale Revolutionnaire (ANR). The list of people's commissioners is resoundingly approved. The Comite Executif National (CEN) replaces the CNR.

1980 - ANR unanimously elects Kerekou as president. Kerekou is the sole contender.

1981 - Members of the former presidential council are released from house arrest.

1984 - ANR increases the terms of the president and people's commissioners from three to five years. The number of people's commissioners is reduced from 336 to 196.

1984 - ANR re-elects Kerekou; no other candidates contest the election.

1987 - Kerekou resigns from the military.

1988 - Two unsuccessful coup attempts.

1989 - Elections are held; a list of 206 people's commissioners is approved. Benin agrees to IMF and World Bank economic adjustment measures.

1989 - President Kerekou re-elected for a third term. Marxism-Leninism is abandoned as Benin's official ideology. Anti-government strikes and demonstrations take place.

Constitutional changes

1990 - Unrest continues. President Kerekou meets dissident leaders. Agreement on constitutional reform and multi-candidate presidential elections is reached.

1990 March - Implementation of agreed reforms begins. Benin drops "people's" from its official title and becomes the Republic of Benin.

1990 December - In a referendum, the constitutional changes are approved by a majority of voters.

1991 February - Legislative elections: No party secures an overall majority. The largest grouping is an alliance of pro-Soglo parties.

1991 March - President Kerekou is beaten by Nicephore Soglo in the first multi-candidate presidential elections. Kerekou is granted immunity from prosecution over actions taken since October 1972.

1992 - The Parti de la Renaissance du Benin is formed by Soglo's wife.

1995 - Legislative elections: Parti de la Renaissance du Benin forms the new government.

1996 - Following accusations of irregularities in presidential elections, the constitutional court announces that Kerekou has received the majority of valid votes cast.

1999 - Legislative elections: New government is formed of representatives of 10 parties.

Kerekou re-elected

2001 March - Presidential elections: none of 17 candidates receives an overall majority. Kerekou is declared re-elected in second round.

2002 - Benin joins the Community of Sahel-Saharan States.

2002 December - First local elections since the end of the single-party regime more than 10 years ago.

2003 March - Legislative elections: Parties supporting President Kerekou win 52 of the 83 elective seats.

2003 December - Lebanese charter plane crashes after taking off from Cotonou, killing some 140 people. French investigators subsequently find that the plane was overloaded.

2004 July - Benin, Nigeria agree to redraw their mutual border.

2005 March - US telecommunications company is fined after it admits to bribery in Benin. The company was accused of funnelling millions of dollars into President Kerekou's 2001 election campaign.

2005 July - International Court of Justice awards most of the river islands along the disputed Benin-Niger border to Niger.

2006 March - Political newcomer Yayi Boni, running as an independent, wins the run-off vote in presidential elections. The incumbent, Mathieu Kerekou, is barred from the poll under a constitutional age limit.

2006 March, April - World Bank and the African Development Bank approve debt relief for several countries including Benin, as part of measures agreed at a G8 nations summit at Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005.

2006 May - Students protest against visit by French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy who introduced a bill making it more difficult for unskilled workers to migrate to France.

2007 April - President Yayi's coalition wins control of parliament in elections.

2007 July - President Yayi leads thousands of supporters on a march against corruption.

2008 April - Local elections held. Nation-wide, parties allied with President Yayi win a majority of local council seats, but the major cities in the south are all won by opposition parties.

Oil discovered

2009 February - Benin announces discovery of "significant quantities" of oil offshore near Seme, a town on the Nigeria-Benin border.

2009 April - European Union bans all of Benin's air carriers from flying to the EU in a regular update of its air safety blacklist.

2010 August - Benin marks 50 years of independence.

Fifty of parliament's 83 MPs demand that President Yayi be charged over an alleged swindle in which thousands lost their life savings.

2010 October - Flooding affects much of the country. Thousands are made homeless.

2011 March - President Yayi is re-elected. His main challenger, Adrien Houngbedji, alleges widespread fraud

2011 May - President Yayi's party and its allies regain control of parliament in elections.

2011 August - London's marine insurance market adds Benin to list of areas deemed high risk due to an escalation of pirate attacks in the area.

Parliament abolishes death penalty.

2011 November - Pope Benedict visits.

2012 January - President Boni Yayi elected chairman of African Union for a year, beating Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan.

Plot claims

2012 October - A prominent business and several alleged accomplices are accused of attempting to assassinate President Boni Yayi by switching his medication for poison. They are later pardoned.

2013 August - President Boni Yayi names a new cabinet after sacking its predecessor amid reports he doubted some ministers' loyalty.

2014 May - West African leaders agree to increase co-ordination in the fight against Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram.

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