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Tuesday, July 14, 1998 Published at 06:57 GMT 07:57 UK

World: Africa

Nigerian politicians seek to avoid oblivion

The northern military establishment dominates in Nigeria

Nigerian politicians elected to the Senate and National Assembly as part of the transition programme of the former military ruler, General Sani Abacha meet on Tuesday to discuss their political future.

There have been growing calls for the new military ruler, General Abdulsalam Abubakar, to disband the five parties which they represent because they were set up by the military authorities.

But one of the senators, Hajiya Naja'atu Mohammed, told the BBC she and her colleagues had been given a mandate and wanted to fulfil it.

Gen Abubakar is expected to announce his plans for Nigeria's transition to civilian rule in the next few days and the Senate and the National Assembly might fall victim to the tide of change brought about the deaths of Gen Abacha and Chief Moshood Abiola.

Military reshuffle

On Monday the Nigerian authorities reshuffled a number of military posts. Major General Victor Malu, the former head of the West African peacekeeping force, ECOMOG, was appointed head of garrison command in Lagos.

Rear Admiral Jubril Ayinla, a former health minister, is to be the new naval chief.

Meanwhile the US State Department says it has reports that Gen Abacha, who died suddenly last month, was poisoned.

[ image: General Sani Abacha: US reports say he may have been poisoned]
General Sani Abacha: US reports say he may have been poisoned
State Department spokesman James Rubin said the information was not conclusive.

Mr Rubin said the US government reports go beyond what has been in media stories but he gave no other details.

Other officials have confirmed privately that some US intelligence analysts say there is evidence Gen Abacha was poisoned while in the company of prostitutes.

Nigeria's military rulers reported after his death on June 8 that he had died at his villa after a sudden heart attack.

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