Benin’s former president Thomas Boni Yayi was in Togo Sunday having left effective house arrest in the country for health reasons, representatives said, as political crisis grips the nation following controversial April polls.
Boni Yayi left on Saturday after “his health deteriorated rapidly”, Noureni Atchade, spokesman for his Cowry Forces for an Emerging Benin (FCBE) party, said in an interview with Radio France Internationale, without giving details.
The former leader’s surprise departure came after weeks of tension with President Patrice Talon, that saw Boni Yayi confined to his northern Benin home.
Protests first erupted in Benin after April 28 parliamentary elections. Several people have died in clashes with police who resorted to gunfire.
The crisis has stoked concerns of an authoritarian turn in a country once seen as a democratic example in the region.
The voting took place without any opposition candidate, and all 83 members of parliament now come from the only two parties allowed to take part, both allied to Talon.
Changes to electoral rules had effectively barred opposition parties from fielding candidates.
The demonstrators had demanded the lifting of a police cordon around Boni Yayi’s house in the country’s economic capital Cotonou.
The former president left the country without giving an explanation to the authorities, the party spokesman said, while stressing that he was not evading justice.
On Sunday morning, a source close to Boni Yayi said he had arrived in Togo’s capital Lome, without giving further details.
‘War of egos’
In early June, Boni Yayi had received a court summons but his lawyers had refused due to his health problems and the stress of his home being surrounded by security forces.
The republican police on Saturday announced that Cadjehoun, the district of Cotonou where Boni Yayi’s house is, was “free of any police presence” following negotiations between Talon and traditional leaders and officials from Save and Tchaourou, Boni Yayi’s hometown.
Talon on Friday said he had “taken steps” to resolve the political crisis.
“I do not have a personal problem with Boni Yayi,” Talon said, adding he was “a friend”.
Most high-profile opponents of Talon now live in exile, fearing legal action against them if they return.
Boni Yayi had been seen as a symbol of opposition staying put in the country. He had denounced an “electoral coup” following the April polls, calling for the results to be annulled and for the people to rise up.
“The socio-political life of Benin has for a few years been a prisoner in the war of egos between two individuals: Patrice Talon and Boni Yayi,” said political scientist Expedit B. Ologou, president of the CiAAF analysis centre, based in Cotonou.
When Boni Yayi was president (2006-2016), Talon was himself forced into exile between 2012 and 2015, accused of “attempted poisoning” against the head of state.
However political analyst Gilles Yabi, founder of the Wathi think tank, said “it would be simplistic to think that the political crisis in Benin is a fight between two men.”
“There seems to be a systematic and methodical plan to control the institutions and the political scene of the country.”
PepsiCo to buy South Africa’s Pioneer Foods for $1.7 billion
PepsiCo has offered 110 rand per Pioneer ordinary share in what would be its second largest deal since 2010
PepsiCo has struck a deal to buy South Africa’s Pioneer Food Group for $1.7 billion, the companies announced on Friday, lifting Pioneer’s shares and boosting a sector that has been hit by drought and tough trading conditions.
The U.S. drinks and snack group see Pioneer Foods’ product portfolio as complementary to its own and would help PepsiCo to expand in sub-Saharan Africa by adding manufacturing and distribution capabilities.
“Pioneer Foods forms an important part of our strategy to not only expand in South Africa, but further into sub-Saharan Africa as well,” PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Ramon Laguarta said in a statement.
PepsiCo has offered $7.89 per Pioneer ordinary share in what would be its second largest deal since 2010, the companies said, with the news lifting the South African company’s shares by 29.32% to more than 100 rand.
Shares in agribusiness investment company, Zeder Investments, which holds Pioneer as part of its portfolio, also rose more than 22%.
“It’s a vote of confidence in South Africa at a time when we really need it,” Pioneer CEO Tertius Carstens says.
Food producers have struggled amid a slump in retail sales as consumers cut back and dry weather hit maize and other produce.
Pioneer, which uses maize in many of its products, reported a decline in half-year earnings in May, weighed down by shortages in the staple food.
“It’s almost a signal to other overseas companies that we are open for business. If PepsiCo is willing to put money down it may lift sentiment of other foreign investors that might come looking at South Africa for bargains,” said Greg Davies, equities trader at Cratos Capital.
Pioneer, whose brands include Weet-Bix cereal, Liqui Fruit juice and Sasko bread, is the latest consumer goods firm to be the target of a buyout after South Africa’s Clover Industries, which processes products including yoghurt, beverages, and olive oil, began takeover talks with a consortium of companies called Milco SA last year.
Pioneer was in talks over a potential deal with “a multinational organisation” in 2017, but that fell apart after South Africa’s credit rating was cut to junk status.
Aid worker, 5 others missing after jihadist ambush in Nigeria
The three-vehicle convoy was returning to Damasak from Layi village when the gunmen opened fire
Six people are missing following an ambush by suspected jihadists on a humanitarian convoy in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state, an aid group said on Friday.
Action Against Hunger (ACF) said in a statement that a member of staff was among the missing after the convoy was ambushed in Kennari, a village outside Damasak Town near the border with Niger.
“One of the drivers was killed, while one Action Against Hunger staff member, two of the drivers and three health workers are missing,” ACF said.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident as these are colleagues dedicated to providing life-saving assistance,” they added.
A statement by the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator, Edward Kallon, said he was “deeply disturbed” by the attack.
“I call on all who may have influence to do everything they can to keep them unharmed and work towards their safe return,” he said.
An Islamic State-affiliated group, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), has been active in the area, repeatedly attacking military bases.
The three-vehicle convoy was returning to Damasak from Layi village where ACF runs a clinic for locals when the gunmen opened fire, according to a humanitarian source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
One of the vehicles veered off the road and crashed into a tree, killing the driver.
“The four were stuck in the vehicle and seized by the attackers,” the humanitarian source said.
“The occupants in the other vehicles abandoned their vehicles and fled on foot to Damasak, eight kilometres (five miles) away,” the source added.
The jihadist insurgency in northeast Nigeria has been raging for a decade.
Further complicating the conflict has been a split within Boko Haram. In 2016, ISWAP, a group that has sworn allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, broke away.
Since 2009, more than 27,000 people have been killed, some two million have fled their homes and milliions are dependent on aid.
NGOs have increasingly been targeted by jihadists.
Two female aid workers with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were murdered by ISWAP last year and an aid worker with the UN children’s agency Unicef is still being held by the group.
The trio were seized during a raid in the remote northeast town of Rann where three UNICEF staff were killed along with eight soldiers.
Guinean teen delivers child during exam and returns to finish
She was rushed to the local hospital where within 10 minutes she swiftly delivered a baby boy
The 18-year-old, from the town of Mamou in eastern Guinea, realised she was just about to give birth as she sat down for the physics part of her baccalaureate, a high-school diploma that entails exams in a range of subjects.
She was rushed to the local hospital where within 10 minutes she swiftly delivered a baby boy.
Just 40 minutes after leaving the examination room, she was back at her desk, stunning her family who had rushed to the clinic as well as the invigilators.
Her tale, recounted by the local media, was confirmed by the head of the exam centre, Mohamed Diakite.
Conde told reporters that she had told no-one, including her husband, that childbirth was imminent “out of fear that they would ask me to stay at home or go and see my doctor.
“I just couldn’t bring myself to imagine missing a single exam for my baccalaureate, which I have been studying for the whole year,” she said.
One of her relatives said that her husband, a corporal in the police, was delighted and was telling everyone who would listen about “this terrific woman”.
“Everyone in Mamou is congratulating them, and we are praying to God that Fatoumata gets her baccalaureate,” said the relative, expressing the hope that the baby is named Espoir, “Hope” in French.
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