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Wednesday, July 15, 1998 Published at 23:29 GMT 00:29 UK

World: Africa

Nigerian leader disbands electoral bodies

General Abubakar: Dismantling his predecessor's legacy

The Nigerian military leader, General Abdulsalam Abubakar, has disbanded three electoral bodies, which were set up by the late General Sani Abacha to oversee the country's transition to democracy.

The bodies - known as the Transition Implementation Committee, the Committee on Devolution of Power and the National Reconciliation Committee - were widely seen as instruments to perpetuate military rule.

The Transition Implementation Committee, the most important of the bodies, announced shortly before General Abacha's death that presidential elections set for this August would be replaced by a referendum on whether General Abacha himself should stay on in power.

The BBC correspondent in Lagos says the National Reconciliation Committee achieved little, if anything, while it existed and sat by helplessly while General Abacha's government drove a wedge between the South West and the rest of Nigeria.

It is not yet known whether the main electoral body, the National Electoral Commission, will be replaced, and whether the five political parties set up under General Abacha will be disbanded, and new elections held.

The move comes as the nation awaits a speech from General Abubakar on his plans to return the country to civilian rule.

However, our correspondent says the political opposition is unlikely to support any election which is overseen by the military.

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