Benin's former President Mathieu Kerekou who ruled for 28 years, has died at the age of 82.
President Thomas Boni Yayi announced Kerekou's death, calling him a "great man".
"In the government's name, I declare a week-long state of national mourning with all flags in the land flying at half-mast," Boni Yayi said in a statement.
Considered as the father of modern Benin, Kerekou was born in 1933 and received military training in Mali and Senegal before joining former colonial master France's army and rising through the ranks to major.
He seized power in the tiny West African country in 1972 and converted to a Marxist ideology two years later. He later renounced Marxism and came to accept multi-party democracy, organising a broad-based national dialogue in 1990 and stepping aside when he lost a vote the following year.
Kerekou made a political comeback five years later and was eventually re-elected in 2001. Faced with term limits and an age restraint, he ceded power to Boni Yayi in 2006.
According to Reuters, in the streets of the capital Cotonou, the mood was sad in some quarters but celebratory in others.
"He is someone who murdered freedom in Benin," said Paul Esse Iko, Secretary-General of the country's Union Confederation.
Elsewhere, radio stations played revolutionary songs from the 1970s and 1980s in tribute. "Are you ready for the revolution?," asked one song in the local Fon language. "We're ready," a chorus replied.
A week of national mourning has been declared.