1. Benin presidential hopefuls to declare bids

    BBC Monitoring

    The world through its media

    A woman takes part in Benin parliamentary elections
    Image caption: Benin has been known as one of Africa's most stable democracies

    The electoral commission in Benin has begun accepting nomination papers from presidential candidates in the upcoming elections in April.

    The candidates are expected at the commission's headquarters from Monday.

    The head of the commission Emmanuel Tiando said the next presidential elections will be governed by a new legal framework.

    In the new provisions of the constitution and the electoral code the candidacy will comprise of a joint ticket: president and vice-president, as well as "the obligation for each pair of candidates to be sponsored by at least 16 legislators and/or mayors".

    Potential candidates will, therefore, have to take this into account in preparing their application files so as not to see their applications rejected for incompleteness.

    Mr Tiando reassured the general public and the political players that his institution would accomplish its mission in full transparency.

    The country's opposition was not part of the 2019 legislative elections as no opposition party met the requirements.

  2. 'More intelligence needed' to defeat Boko Haram

    Celestina Olulode

    BBC News

    Chadian soldiers belonging to the Joint Task Force gesture while patrolling in Monguno
    Image caption: A Multinational Joint Task Force was formed in 2015

    Greater co-operation and intelligence-sharing is what is needed to successfully defeat Boko Haram terrorists in the Lake Chad region, a report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) says.

    The Multinational Joint Task Force, drawn from regional states, holds the key to tackling the jihadist threat, but that so far success has been limited, the think tank says.

    Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, with the help of Benin - make up the Multinational Joint Task Force, which was formed back in 2015 after a growing realisation that defeating Boko Haram required a collective response.

    Five years on it has approximately 10,000 uniformed soldiers.

    The ICG does acknowledge some successes, including military campaigns from 2017-2019 which pushed back insurgents, freed civilians, and enabled the delivery of aid.

    But advances against Boko Haram have mostly been short-lived because of the insurgents' resilience, the report says.

    Referring to a reluctance from each state to cede control to the overall joint task force, the think tank says that structural limitations and a weak chain of command are of concern.

    The report calls for funding issues to be resolved with the help of the African Union and the European Union - which both helped create the joint task force.

    But with the terror threat showing no signs of declining, establishing peace in the region will not be an easy operation for the joint task force.

    Boko Haram, and its offshoot the Islamic State in West Africa Province (Iswap), have killed thousands and displaced about two million in north-east Nigeria.

    More on this topic:

  3. Benin students begin national examinations

    Thousands of students in Benin have started writing their national examinations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    The Ministry of Education said social distancing measures would be implemented in the exam centres and all candidates would have their masks on.

    The government Twitter account shared pictures of education officials inspecting schools on Monday:

    View more on twitter

    Benin has reported more than 1,000 coronavirus cases and 21 deaths.

  4. Will the WTO appoint its first African head?

    Russell Padmore

    Business correspondent, BBC News

    Eloi Laourou
    Image caption: Eloi Laourou of Benin (R) is one of the contenders for director general

    Several African candidates are said to be among those in the running for the post of director general at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

    They include former Egyptian diplomat Hamid Mamdou, who worked with the WTO for years, former Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okondha-Iweala, and Eloi Laourou, who is Benin's ambassador to the UN in Geneva.

    The decision by Brazilian Roberto Azevedo to stand down as WTO director general a year early means there is just a month to nominate candidates.

    The African Union had wanted to settle on a single candidate, but the pressure to decide within a month may rule that out.

    The WTO has never had a head from Africa, and many on the continent say it is about time that this should change.

    But there is growing pressure from the European Union to have a European replace the outgoing Brazilian head of the global trade body.

    The unwritten convention is that the post alternates between the developing and developed world, which would point to a nomination from the EU.

  5. Video content

    Video caption: Benin's farming bootcamp for aspiring entrepreneurs

    Agro Bootcamp is teaching urban professionals how to become profitable farmers in a single week.

  6. Benin leader orders probe into #MeToo allegations

    Khady Lo

    BBC Afrique, Dakar

    Angéla Kpeidja and Pricile Kpogbeme
    Image caption: Angéla Kpeidja (l) and Pricile Kpogbeme say the sexual abuse of women is widespread in Benin's media industry

    Beninese President Patrice Talon has ordered investigations into allegations of sexual harassment made by two female journalists.

    Angéla Kpeidja, who works for the national television station ORTB, and Pricile Kpogbeme made claims of sexual harassment and abuse in separate Facebook posts.

    Ms Kpeidja's post on 1 May condemned the "silence in frustration" among women journalists.

    Ms Kpogbeme marked World Press Freedom Day on 3 May with a video post that highlighted the abuse she has faced in her career.

    She said women were regarded as "sex objects" in the media industry and that she was unemployed because she refused the sexual advances of those in authority.

    View more on facebook

    President Talon said he had met the ORTB heads and Ms Kpeidja and ordered investigations into the allegations.

    "I am already convinced that the action taken by Ms Angela Kpeidja will be the trigger for a new dawn to ensure that victims of sexual abuse are better protected in our country," he said in a Facebook post.

    The ORTB management said it "has not received any complaints of moral or sexual harassment or rape of female staff".

    The two women have received support from their peers on social media.

    Beninese President Patrice Talon
    Image caption: President Patrice Talon has met one of the female journalists who made the claims
  7. Four countries receive Covid-19 donations

    Kennedy Gondwe

    BBC News, Lusaka

    Loading of boxes

    A pan-African infrastructure and logistics solutions company has donated an assortment of equipment to four African countries aimed at fighting the coronavirus.

    Arise, which is based in Libreville, Gabon donated 7m masks, 143,000 sets of protective clothing and 230,000 boxes of disinfectant gel to Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo and Mauritania.

    “In the context of global shortages in critical medical supplies, we are providing a large shipment of medical equipment," CEO Gagan Gupta said.

    The supplies were mainly manufactured in China.

    The Africa CDC, in its latest status reports, says the continent had just over 5,700 confirmed cases.

    See the map below for more information.

    Covid-19 map
  8. Coronavirus: Benin president says poverty could hinder prevention

    BBC World Service

    The impact of Covid-19 is continuing to be felt across sub-Saharan Africa:

    • In Benin, President Patrice Talon said it would be difficult to enforce prevention measures because people were too poor to cope with them. Recent student protests calling for classes to be halted due to the virus left one dead
    • In Nigeria, the petroleum regulator has ordered oil and gas companies to reduce their offshore workforce to try to stop the spread of the disease on rigs
    • The African Union intervention force in Somalia is restricting access to its base camp in the capital Mogadishu
    • And in South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa travelled to a remote resort in Limpopo province to oversee the release from quarantine of dozens of people who had returned from the Chinese city of Wuhan

    Read more:

  9. Coronavirus cases climb to 400 across Africa

    Chi Chi Izundu

    BBC News, Lagos

    There are now more than 400 known cases of coronavirus across the continent, with nations imposing a range of measures to try to prevent the spread.

    According to the latest data, the breakdown is as follows: Algeria - 60; Benin - 1; Burkina Faso - 15; Cameroon - 5; Central African Republic - 1; Congo-Brazzaville - 1; DR Congo - 2; Egypt - 126; Eswatini - 1; Ethiopia - 5; Equatorial Guinea - 1; Gabon - 1; Ghana - 6; Guinea - 1; Ivory Coast - 3; Kenya - 3; Liberia - 2; Mauritania - 1; Morocco - 37; Namibia - 2; Nigeria - 3; Rwanda - 7; Senegal - 26; Seychelles - 4; Somalia - 1; South Africa - 62; Sudan - 1; Tanzania - 1; Togo - 1; Tunisia - 24.

    While many countries are closing schools, banning large gatherings and shutting borders, in Kenya telecom companies have slashed the cost of mobile money transfers in a bid to encourage people to go cashless.

    An anti-corruption court in Nairobi has relocated and set up outside the capital.

    There is increasing concern about the potential economic impact in Africa.

    People working in other parts of the world are likely to have less money available to send to their families back home so there is likely to be a drop in these remittances.

  10. Video content

    Video caption: Benin company harvesting plants that could soak up oil spills

    A company in Benin harvests water hyacinths which can be used to soak up oil.

  11. Presidential rival banned from Benin's elections

    Lionel Zinzou
    Image caption: Lionel Zinzou formerly served as Benin's prime minister

    A leading opposition figure in Benin has been barred from taking part in any election over the next four years and ordered to pay a fine of $8,200 (£6,300), for overspending on his 2016 presidential election campaign.

    Lionel Zinsou will not able to stand in next year's presidential election as a result, unless he successfully challenges the court of appeal's verdict.

    Mr Zinzou's lawyer, Robert Dossou, told Jeune Afrique news site: "Their aim is clear - they want to make Lionel Zinsou ineligible. Those in power want to push aside any credible potential candidate for the 2021 presidential election."

    Benin's government has always denied this. Last month, Justice Minister Séverin Quenum told the same news site that the country's judicial system was not being misused for political ends.

  12. France's ex-colonies move to loosen currency ties


    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    A man holds up his fist during an anti-colonial demonstration against the regional CFA franc on the Place de l'Obelisque in Dakar on September 16, 2017
    Image caption: Some civil society groups have waged a long campaign for the scrapping of the CFA franc

    Eight West African countries have agreed to cut some of their financial links with France in a move which will see the end of a currency known as the CFA franc.

    Under the deal a new currency called the eco is to be launched. It will still be linked to the euro.

    The decision was announced on Saturday during the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to the region.

    For many people living in West Africa using the CFA franc in shops or markets has been a daily reminder of the lingering colonial link with France.

    Critics said the system enabled France to benefit long after the blue, white and red flags were lowered at independence especially as it could easily access the region's mineral wealth.

    Whilst there has long been a campaign to ditch the currency, which has been in use since just after World War Two, some economists argued that the CFA franc did provide a degree of financial stability.

    Being pegged to the old French franc and then the Euro helped the seven former French colonies and Guinea Bissau to keep inflation down and avoid the prospect of Zimbabwean style financial meltdown during turbulent times.

    Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara described the decision to scrap the currency as a historic day for West Africa and other politicians in the region will also celebrate the move.

    Along with Ivory Coast, the decision affects Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

    In a few months’ time these countries plan to have a new currency. Although it will still be pegged to the Euro, the African countries using it will no longer be forced to keep half of their reserves in the French treasury in Paris.

    The vast majority of people living in the eight countries are under the age of 30.

    So they may be less willing to listen to the politicians who see this move as cutting a colonial link. They will judge its success purely on whether it leaves them wealthier.

  13. France promises to return looted Benin statues by 2021

    Three Great Royal Statues of ancient Dahomey (currently Benin, West Africa) are displayed at the Quai Branly Museum-Jacques Chirac in Paris
    Image caption: Three Great Royal Statues of ancient Dahomey are displayed at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris

    The French culture minister says his government will return artworks taken from Benin during the colonial conquest of the region by 2021.

    Franck Riester was speaking on a visit to Benin.

    France promised last year to send back 26 pieces now in the Quai Branly Museum in the French capital, Paris, without delay, but Benin said it needed time to build a proper exhibition facility.

    The 26 thrones and statues were taken in 1892 during a colonial war against the then-Kingdom of Dahomey.

    Their return is expected to put pressure on other former colonial powers to hand back thousands of artifacts taken during the colonial era.

    Last year, an experts' report stated that most of the Africa collection in the Quai Branly Museum - approximately 46,000 pieces - was acquired with some degree of duress.

    Read more: A guide to Africa's looted treasures

  14. Benin expels EU ambassador for 'interference'

    Oliver Nette

    Benin has expelled the European Union’s ambassador over political interference, a statement from the president’s office says.

    The statement said that while the country had nothing against the EU, Ambassador Oliver Nette was “harmful”.

    "He has interfered too much in domestic affairs," the AFP news agency quotes an anonymous Benin official as saying.

    "He constantly calls on civil society to protest against the government."

  15. Nine sailors abducted off the coast of Benin

    The Bonita
    Image caption: The Bonita was attacked off the coast of Benin

    A Norway-based shipping company says that nine of its employees have been abducted from one of its vessels while it was moored off the coast of Benin in West Africa.

    Shipping firm JJ Ugland said the cargo ship, the Bonita, was attacked on Saturday by pirates 15km (nine miles) off the coast.

    The crew's identity and nationality have not been made public, but the shipping firm said the rest of the crew moved the vessel into the Port of Cotonou in Benin.

    The ship was carrying a cargo of gypsum, a mineral commonly used as fertiliser, which was destined for Benin, the firm said.

    While piracy has decreased world wide, West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea remains notorious for abductions by armed groups who usually demand ransoms for the safe return of victims.

    Several abductions have been reported in the region in recent months, including eight crew members taken from a German-owned vessel off Cameroon in August, and 10 Turkish sailors off the coast of Nigeria in July.