Dahomey: A Seasonal Coup

Dahomey, the birthplace of voodoo, undergoes a peculiar seasonal ritual. Ever since it gained independence from France in 1960, the tiny country of 2,300,000 people has regularly tossed out its government during the pre-Christmas season in odd-numbered years. Usually, the man who has served as chief bouncer is a general named Christophe Soglo, 58. Last week, right on schedule, Dahomey had its fourth coup in seven years. This time, it was a total surprise to Soglo, who was himself thrown out as President by a junta of his younger army subordinates.

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