Maj. Mathieu Kérékou assumed the presidency after the military coup of October 1972 and ruled essentially by decree. In 1973, the National Council of the Revolution, headed by President Kérékou, became the ruling authority. The country's name was changed to the People's Republic of Benin in December 1975. The council disbanded itself in 1979 in accordance with a fundamental law it issued in 1977. The supreme authority of the state became the 336-member National Revolutionary Assembly (NRA), elected from a single list in November 1979 and June 1984. In 1984, this body was reduced to 196 members. The NRA elected the incumbent president, Mathieu Kérékou, as president on 5 February 1980 and reelected him on 31 July 1984. On 29 July 1988, the cabinet was restructured. cabinet ministers, as well as six prefects (provincial governors) made up the National Executive Council.
The 1990 constitution enshrined multiparty elections, a unitary republic, and changed the country's name to The Republic of Benin. The president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term, re-electable only once. A directly elected National Assembly of 83 seats elected by direct universal suffrage (at age 18) has a maximum life of four years. Soglo was elected president in March 1991 with 68% of the vote; Kérékou defeated him in the 1996 elections, winning 52.49% of the vote. Kérékou won the March 2001 presidential elections with 84.1% of the vote, after Soglo and National Assembly president Adrien Houngbedji boycotted the second round of voting, charging fraud. Bruno Amoussou, the fourth-place finisher in the first round of voting, took 15.9% of the vote in the second round. Legislative elections are scheduled for 30 March 2003.