President of Benin. Kerekou served as President of Benin for two different periods (1972 to 1991 and 1996 to 2006). After studying in military schools in Mali and Senegal, he served in the military. Kerekou was a primary assistant to President Hubert Maga after the country gained its independence, but became chairman of the Military Revolutionary Council after a military coup in 1967. He attended French military schools from 1968 to 1970 and two years later in 1972, seized power in a military coup which ended the Military Revolutionary Council. At first Kerekou announced that the country would not copy any "foreign ideology", but two years later in 1974, he declared Benin a "Marxist-Leninist" state (country was renamed the People's Republic of Benin from its original Republic of Dahomey). His regime was rigid and vigorous in pursuing its ideological goals, but by the late 1970s, it had moderated in its control. Kerekou survived several attempts on his life and also several coup attempts during his first term of rule. With the economy in poor shape, he tried to reverse course a little, but it didn't work out and he was voted out of office in 1991 by popular vote. After losing the election, Kerekou left politics for awhile, but in 1996, regained the presidency in another election. His second term followed a more liberal approach to the economy and after the 2006 election saw the election of his successor, he retired from politics. Throughout his political career, Kerekou's nickname was "the chameleon" because of the way he could go with the changes in the political climate of the country.
Bio by: Mr. Badger Hawkeye