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Monday, June 8, 1998 Published at 22:48 GMT 23:48 UK

Special Report

Who will succeed Abacha?

Who will assume power after the death of General Abacha

Some reports from Nigeria say that a successor to General Abacha will be announced in the next few hours.

There is no obvious replacement - Abacha's former deputy, Lieutenant-General Oladipo Diya was sentenced to death in April for plotting to take power, and his post was never filled.

Nigeria's Provisional Ruling Council is convening through the night to discuss who will take charge.

Likely successors include Lieutenant-General Jeremiah Useni, the minister for the capital territory of Abuja, chief of army staff Major-General Ishiaya Bamaiyi, and the Nigerian defence chief, Major-General Abdul Abubakar Salam who is chairing the meeting.

Three military contenders

Major-General Abubakar, who announced Abacha's death and led the government delegation to his burial, is seen as a career officer and has never played a prominent political role.

Though he is the highest officer in the military hierarchy and chief of staff of the army, navy and air force, his post does not involve direct command of any large body of troops.

Lieutenant-General Jeremiah Useni - Nigeria's most senior military officer following Abacha's death - was considered close to the president.

He frequently appeared in public both on behalf of President Abacha and in his own right.

Useni's jovial public character is very different from either the very reserved Abacha or other military officers.

Major-General Ishaya Bamaiyi is another career soldier who has never held any political appointment.

In fact, he has criticised political office-seeking among the military in the past as unprofessional.

As head of the army, he has the largest body of troops directly under his command and is considered to have widespread respect from his men.

Support for jailed election 'winner'

Some opposition supporters have already said power must go to Chief Moshood Abiola, the presumed winner of the 1993 election, who has been in jail for five years awaiting trial for treason.

But the chairman of the opposition National Democratic Coalition of Nigeria (NADECO) said that whoever succeeded General Abacha should respect the scheduled transition to civilian rule.

Sani Abacha, who seized power in November 1993, had pledged to give up military power, and hand over to a civilian government in October.

He promised presidential elections for August 1 as the last stage in the programme to transfer power to civilian rule, but he was the only candidate after being adopted by all five officially approved parties.

Nigerian opposition leaders in London said the death of General Abacha is an opportunity to restore the country's legitimate government and for the military to apologise for its actions.

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1998 Contents
 -  Balloon race
 -  Valentine
 -  Harley Davidson
 -  Welfare Reform
 -  Diana
 -  Chinese New Year
 -  Water Week
 -  Health
 -  Clinton Scandal
 -  Woodward
 -  Bloody Sunday
 -  Eurasia 98
 -  Asian economic crises
 -  Car Crash
 -  1970s
 -  EU Enlargement
 -  Drugs in sport
 -  Encryption
 -  Australian Republic
 -  Food Agency
 -  London Referendum
 -  Karla Faye Tucker
 -  Hooligans
 -  Viagra
 -  Northern Ireland
 -  India Elections
 -  Sri Lanka
 -  liberal democrats
 -  Gulf War Syndrome
 -  WEF Davos
 -  04/98
 -  Pope in Cuba
 -  Elgar
 -  Super Bowl XXXII
 -  PNG
 -  Millennium Dome
 -  US abortion rights
 -  Bon Appetit
 -  Kosovo
 -  Five Nations

06/98 Contents




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After Abacha

Relevant Stories

08 Jun 98 | World
Abacha: leader with an iron grip

08 Jun 98 | Africa
Abacha dies at 54

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Surprise death prompts calls for democracy