Benin has taken steps necessary to reach its completion point under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, making the country eligible for debt relief totalling US $460 million, the IMF and World Bank's International Development Association (IDA) reported on Tuesday.

Rights groups have welcomed a new law, banning all forms of female genital mutilation in Benin. ''I am pleased with the passage of the law, because, of all the countries in the sub-region, Benin was the last to outlaw female genital mutilation,'' says Genevieve Boko Nadjo, president of WILDAF-Benin, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) dealing with women issues.

Voters in Benin went to the polls last Sunday in the country's first municipal elections since the end of one-party rule in 1990. Some three million people were eligible to elect their mayors and municipal councillors, previously designated by the government

Benin has intensified a national campaign against child labour which has attracted at least 600,000 children in a population of 6.7 million people, the InterPress Agency reported last Thursday.

The Joint Regional HIV/AIDS Project in the Abidjan-Lagos Transport Corridor aims to improve access to HIV/AIDS prevention services, care and support to National HIV/AIDS Control Programmes with special emphasis on migrants, drivers, sex workers, and local populations living in the border towns along the Abidjan-Lagos transport corridor.