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Saturday, July 11, 1998 Published at 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK

World: Africa

Abiola letter accuses Annan

Kofi Annan met Chief Abiola a week before his death

Evidence has emerged from Nigeria of a sharp difference between the United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, and the detained opposition leader, Chief Moshood Abiola.

Chief Abiola died on Tuesday, the day before he was due to be released after four years in detention by Nigeria's military rulers.

[ image: Abiola:
Abiola: "unwilling to sign"
He was the presumed winner of Nigeria's 1993 elections, which were annulled by Nigeria's federal military government (FMG).

After meeting Chief Abiola a week before his death, Mr Annan said Chief Abiola had agreed not to press his claim to the presidency - a condition set by the government for his release.

But a letter in a Nigerian newspaper, said to have been written by Chief Abiola, accuses Mr Annan and the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Anyaoku, of behaving like Nigerian Government advisers.

He said they had tried to persuade him to give up his claim to the presidency in writing - which he said he was not willing to do.

"Yes, they asked me for a signed statement that I will not declare myself president again after my release. They believe such a signed statement will enable the FMG to give me an unconditional release," he told the head of the opposition National Democratic Coalition, Senator Abraham Adesanya.

"Something must be seriously wrong with them."

Referring to the two secretary-generals, he is quoted as saying: "Both of them behaved as diplomatic advisers to FMG. God willing, they will have no effect on our progress."

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