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Friday, September 08, 2006


Posted September 8, 2006: from the US Embassy in Benin

U.S. Army Begins Medical Exercise in Benin

Charge d'Affaires Richard Holtzapple speaks at the Med Flag opening ceremony
A group of 54 medical experts from the U.S. Army began a medical exercise called "MedFlag" with the Armed Forces of Benin September 4. Members of the two groups will train together, and the U.S. Army will also conduct free medical clinics in the villages of Savi and Djegbadje, providing dental and eye examinations, eyeglasses, and also veterinary care for the animals of the villages. Me. Richard Holtzapple, who was Charge d' Affaires at the time, spoke at the opening ceremony on September 4. The medical team will be in Benin for about two weeks.
Benin may be in a position for improving economic stability.
  • In Feb 2006, the Mellenium Challange signing took place
  • The recent clean election of a respected banker as president
  • Privitization and technology improvements present an excelent time for economic growth to be spurred by telecommunications growth
  • It is early in the radicalization of local isalmic population
  • Significant Western NGO access to the country connected to France.
    Here is a fairly comprehenisive list of all NGOs operating in Benin

Transnational Issues
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This page was last updated on 22 August, 2006


Present day Benin was the site of Dahomey, a prominent West African kingdom that rose in the 15th century. The territory became a French Colony in 1872 and achieved independence on 1 August 1960, as the Republic of Benin. A succession of military governments ended in 1972 with the rise to power of Mathieu KEREKOU and the establishment of a government based on Marxist-Leninist principles. A move to representative government began in 1989. Two years later, free elections ushered in former Prime Minister Nicephore SOGLO as president, marking the first successful transfer of power in Africa from a dictatorship to a democracy. KEREKOU was returned to power by elections held in 1996 and 2001, though some irregularities were alleged.

Dr. Thomas Yayi Boni (born 1952), a Beninois banker and politician, is the current President of Benin. He took office on 6 April 2006 after winning elections held in the previous month.

Benin and Burkina Faso military clash in 2006 over sections of riverine boundary involving disputed villages and squatters; much of Benin-Niger boundary, including tripoint with Nigeria, remains undemarcated; in 2005, Nigeria ceded thirteen villages to Benin as a consequence of a 2004 joint task force to resolve maritime and land boundary disputes, but clashes among rival gangs along the border persist; a joint boundary commission continues to resurvey the boundary with Togo to verify Benin's claim that Togo moved boundary stones

Environment - current issues:

  • inadequate supplies of potable water;
  • poaching threatens wildlife populations;
  • deforestation; desertification


  • Economy - overview: The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Growth in real output has averaged around 5% in the past six years, but rapid population growth has offset much of this increase. Inflation has subsided over the past several years. In order to raise growth still further, Benin plans to attract more foreign investment, place more emphasis on tourism, facilitate the development of new food processing systems and agricultural products, and encourage new information and communication technology
  • Benin continues to be hurt by Nigerian trade protection that bans imports of a growing list of products from Benin and elsewhere, which has resulted in increased smuggling and criminality in the border region.
  • Sandbanks create difficult access to a coast with no natural harbors, river mouths, or islands
  • Excess mortality due to AIDS
  • Population may double in 25 years
  • Major infectious diseases:
    degree of risk: very high food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever vectorborne diseases: malaria, yellow fever, and others are high risks in some locations respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis (2005)
  • Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 33.6% male: 46.4% female: 22.6% (2002 est.)
  • Illicit drugs: transshipment point for narcotics associated with Nigerian trafficking organizations and most commonly destined for Western Europe and the US;
  • Vulnerable to money laundering due to a poorly regulated financial infrastructure
  • Benin was a finalist in 2004-05. for Melinnial challenage funding from the world bank.
  • The 2001 privatization policy continues in telecommunications, water, electricity, and agriculture in spite of government reluctance.
  • The Paris Club and bilateral creditors have eased the external debt situation, with Benin benefiting from a G8 debt reduction announced in July 2005, while pressing for more rapid structural reforms.

African 99% (42 ethnic groups, most important being Fon, Adja, Yoruba, Bariba), Europeans 5,500
indigenous beliefs 50%, Christian 30%, Muslim 20%
French (official), Fon and Yoruba (most common vernaculars in south), tribal languages (at least six major ones in north)
Administrative divisions:
12 departments; Alibori, Atakora, Atlantique, Borgou, Collines, Kouffo, Donga,UBF, MADEP, FC, Alliance MDC-PC-CPP, IPD, AFP, MDS, RDP)

Supreme; High Court of Justice
Political parties and leaders:

  • Alliance of Progress Forces or AFP;
  • African Movement for Democracy and Progress or MADEP [Sefou FAGBOHOUN];
  • Democratic Renewal Party or PRD [Adrien HOUNGBEDJI];
  • Impulse for Progress and Democracy or IPD;
  • Key Force or FC; Movement for Development and Solidarity or MDS;
  • Movement for Development by the Culture-
  • Salute Party-
  • Congress of People for Progress Alliance or Alliance MDC-PS-CPP;
  • New Alliance or NA; Rally for Democracy and Progress or RDP;
  • Renaissance Party du Benin or RB [Nicephore SOGLO];
  • The Star Alliance (Alliance E'toile) [Sacca LAFIA];
  • Union of Tomorrow's Benin or UBF [Bruno AMOUSSOU] note: approximately 20 additional minor parties


  • Diplomatic representation in the US:
    chief of mission: Ambassador Cyrille Segbe OGUIN chancery: 2124 Kalorama Road NW, Washington, DC 20008 telephone: [1] (202) 232-6656 FAX: [1] (202) 265-1996
  • Diplomatic representation from the US:
    chief of mission: Ambassador Wayne NEILL embassy: Rue Caporal Bernard Anani, Cotonou mailing address: 01 B. P. 2012, Cotonou telephone: [229] 30-06-50 FAX: [229] 30-06-70

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