Émile Derlin Zinsou

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Émile Derlin Henri Zinsou
President of Dahomey
In office
17 July 1968 – 10 December 1969
Preceded by Alphonse Amadou Alley
Succeeded by Iropa Maurice Kouandété
Personal details
Born (1918-03-23) 23 March 1918 (age 97)
Ouidah, Benin
Profession politician

Emile Derlin Zinsou (born 23 March 1918) is a Beninese political figure who was the President of Dahomey (now Benin) from 17 July 1968 until 10 December 1969, supported by the military regime that took power in 1967. Zinsou also served in the French senate from 1955 to 1958. He was previously Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1962 to 1963 and again from 1965 to 1967. He is said to have opposed the one-party Marxist policies of Mathieu Kérékou, who ruled Benin from 1972 to 1990. Zinsou was present at the signing of the treaty that formed the African Union on 12 July 2000 in Togo. He was born in Ouidah.

Political career[edit]

On 16 January 1977 an attempted coup d'état took place in Benin with a group of armed men led by renowned French mercenary "Colonel" Bob Denard took place in Benin. The operation, called Opération Crevette (or Operation Shrimp), was mounted in order to oust leftist President Mathieu Kérékou. In his autobiography, Bob Denard has mentioned that Emile Derlin Zinsou was to be reinstated in power in the aftermath of the coup, and that he was in fact waiting on board the mercenaries' plane that fled the country when the coup attempt failed. Zinsou has often denied being linked to the coup, but refused to comment on Denard's writings.

Zinsou was a mediator in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during that country's civil war in the late 1990s; he arrived in Kinshasa on 20 September 1999, along with fellow mediator Padre Matteo Zuppi, and met with President Laurent-Désiré Kabila.[1]

Zinsou is, as of 2007, the Honorary President of the National Union for Democracy and Progress political party.[2] In January 2006, he announced his support for Yayi Boni in the March 2006 presidential election.[3] Zinsou, like other world leaders of the time, contributed to a disc left on the surface of the Moon by the astronauts of Apollo 11.[4]


  1. ^ "Congolese mediators meet Kabila", BBC News, 23 September 1999.
  2. ^ Chales Yansunnu, "Mathieu Kérékou refuse l’école des anciens présidents", Fraternite (sonangnon.net), 15 June 2007 (French).
  3. ^ Thibaud Nagnonhou, "5e Conseil national de l’UNDP : Le Président Zinsou et les siens jettent leur dévolu sur Yayi Boni", L'Informateur (sonangnon.net), 23 January 2006 (French).
  4. ^ Release No 69-83F (1969). "Apollo 11 Goodwill Messages" (PDF). NASA. pp. 16–17. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Assogba Oké
Foreign Minister of Benin
Succeeded by
Hubert Maga
Preceded by
Tahirou Congacou
Foreign Minister of Benin
Succeeded by
Benoît Sinzogan