Pirates have hijacked an Italian diesel tanker off Benin in western Africa in an attack of the kind more usually associated with Somalia. Assailants boarded the RBD Anema e Core in the Gulf of Guinea, officials in Benin and Italy confirmed. The Gulf of Guinea has become increasingly important for its potential energy reserves which have attracted international interests, BBC West Africa correspondent Thomas Fessy reports from Dakar.

Following weeks of disputed election results, Benin President Boni Yayi has re-settled into office, leading analysts and citizens to push him to address what they see as the country’s most pressing challenges: electoral and economic reform, forging links with opposition parties, and preparing the country to face the threat of floods as the rainy season approaches.

The main challengers in Benin's disputed presidential vote have filed appeals over results showing incumbent Boni Yayi won with 53 per cent, the constitutional court said Saturday (26 March). Tension has risen in the small west African country since the vote, with police firing tear gas to disperse opposition protesters in the economic capital Cotonou on Thursday (24 March).

Benin’s media regulatory body, the Higher Authority for Audiovisual Communication (HAAC) on 10 March suspended, for a week, nine privately-owned newspapers in the country over false and abusive publications. The newspapers have been barred from publishing since 14 March.They are, however, expected back on the newsstands on 20 March.

Benin last month saw mass protests, demanding a delay of the elections planned for 27 February as 1.4 million voters were missing in the electoral roll. The Constitutional Court of Benin ruled in the favour of the country's opposition - backed by crowds of protesters - and delayed the presidential elections for another week, to 13 March, in order to expand the electoral roll further.