The army has seized power in Dahmoey in the West African country's fifth coup since it became independent from France in 1960.
The army has seized power in Dahmoey in the West African country's fifth coup since it became independent from France in 1960. The coup, which was announced in Cotonou on Thursday, came less than a month before French President Georges Pompidou is due to visit the country.
The coup was headed by paratroop Major Mathieu Kerekou, Deputy Chief, of the Armed Forces. He was a leading figure in a previous coup in 1967. First signs of the coup came soon after noon when soldiers began occupying strategic points in Cotonou, particularly around the Presidential palace where the cabinet was believed to have been in session. Later some shooting was heard.
In a statement read over the National Radio, Major Kerekou said that the ruling Presidential Council and the National consultative Assembly had both been dissolved. Three of the country's leaders head Dahomey's Presidential Council in rotation. The current head of the council is President Justin Ahomadegbe.
Thursday's army move is the latest in a number of coups, which have marked the history of Dahomey since independence in 1960. With about 2,500,000 inhabitants spread over some 45,000 square miles (116,500 kms), Dahomey is one of the smallest African countries. The economy depends mainly on exports of palm kernels, palm oil and groundnuts.
In August of this year, Dahomey celebrated its twelfth anniversary of independence, as seen in this VISNEWS library film.