Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Yayi Boni

Dr. Thomas Yayi Boni (born 1 July 1952), a Beninese banker and politician, is the current President of Benin. He took office on 6 April 2006 after winning elections held in the previous month. He is also the current Chairperson of the African Union having being elected at the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union.

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 Dauphine University, where he completed a doctorate in economics in 1976.

From 1980 to 1988 Boni worked for the Central Bank of West African States (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.

Boni was reelected in 2011, taking 53.18 percent of the vote in the first round--enough to avoid a runoff election. He is the first president to win an election without a runoff since the restoration of democracy in 1991.

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