THE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL SITUATION in Benin has been relatively stable since the wide-ranging national consultation took place between 19 and 28 February 1990. This consultation, known as the Conférence nationale des forces vives (National Conference of Dynamic Forces), put an end to the deep social and political crisis that had existed in the late 1980s. Since 1990, Benin has become amodel for political transition in sub-Saharan Africa.During this time, three presidents have taken the helm of the country following democratic residential elections: Nicéphore Soglo (1991-96), Mathieu Kerekou (1996-06) and Thomas Yayi Boni (April 2006-present). Parliamentary elections also took place in April 2007.These elections ran smoothly, with Yayi’s supporters gaining a majority in parliament. Nevertheless, since local elections in April 2008, the president has been confronted with a rebellion in parliament. Political reshuffling has enabled the opposition to re-establish a majority in parliament, thus making it difficult for the government to deploy its programme.
Despite this political change and a global economic environment marked by strong pressure on oil and food prices, Benin maintained a rather remarkable economic growth rate of 5 per cent in 2008. Growth is expected to remain high in 2009 and 2010, with current forecasts of 5.3 and 5.6 per cent respectively.