President of Benin
Patrice Talon, President of Benin (elected on Mar 20, 2016)
Patrice Talon (born 1 May 1958) is a Beninese businessman and politician who was elected President of Benin on 20 March 2016.
Known as the “King of Cotton” for his involvement in the cotton industry, Talon was a backer of President Thomas Boni Yayi, financing his campaigns for the 2006 and 2011 elections. However, after the two fell out, Talon was accused of involvement in a plot to kill Boni Yayi and fled to France in 2012. He was subsequently pardoned in 2014.
Talon ran as an independent candidate in the March 2016 presidential election. Although he finished second to Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou of the Cowry Forces for an Emerging Benin in the first round of voting, he won the second round with 65% of the vote. Speaking on 25 March 2016, Talon said that he would “first and foremost tackle constitutional reform”, discussing his plan to limit presidents to a single term of five years in order to combat “complacency”. He also said that he planned to slash the size of the government from 28 to 16 members.
He is married to a woman from Porto-Novo and has two children.
Thomas Yayi Boni, Former President of Benin
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.
Boni was born in Tchaourou, in the Borgou Department in northern Benin, then the French colony of Dahomey. He was educated in the regional capital, Parakou, and later studied economics at the National University of Benin. He studied banking at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal, and later economics and politics at the University of Orléans in France and at Paris University, where he completed a doctorate in economics in 1976.
From 1980 to 1988 Boni worked for the Central Bank of the States of West Africa (BCEAO), becoming its Deputy Director, based in Dakar. In 1988 he became Deputy Director for Professional Development at the West African Centre for Banking Studies, also in Dakar. From 1992 to 1994 he worked in the office of the President of Benin, Nicéphore Soglo, in charge of monetary and banking policy. Finally in 1994 he was appointed President of the West African Development Bank (BOAD). For his work on West African development he was appointed Chevalier de l’Ordre National de Mérite of the French Republic.
In the first round of the presidential elections, held on 5 March, Boni polled 32 percent. His nearest challenger, Adrien Houngbédji of the Party for Democratic Renewal, polled 25 percent. Twenty-six candidates contested the election, which was reported to have been peaceful and fair. A runoff was held between Boni and Houngbédji on March 19; Boni won with almost 75 percent of the vote.
Originally from a Muslim family, Boni is now an Evangelical Protestant. He has five children, and his wife Chantal (née de Souza), a native of the coastal city of Ouidah, is the niece of the former military ruler Paul-Émile de Souza.