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Sunday, July 19, 1998 Published at 21:41 GMT 22:41 UK

World: Africa

Nigeria awaits democracy plan

General Abubakar's statement has been expected for weeks

There is renewed expectation in Nigeria that the country's military ruler, General Abdulsalam Abubakar, will outline plans for democratic elections and a return to civilian rule in a national address on Monday.

General Abubakar has chosen a programme "in the best interests of the nation," his chief press secretary David Attah was quoted as saying in the Lagos Guardian newspaper.

The paper - considered one of the more reliable in Nigeria - said General Abubakar was due to announce the plan in a national television and radio broadcast on Monday evening.

[ image: There has been violent unrest in Nigeria]
There has been violent unrest in Nigeria
Nigeria's military ruler has been promising for several weeks to announce his transition programme, which is intended to transform Nigeria's government and political system.

The National Security and Defence Council has been meeting to consider proposals for a transition timetable drawn up by a committee appointed by General Abubakar.

Under the transition programme of General Abubakar's predecessor, Sani Abacha, presidential elections were scheduled for August.

But since taking office six weeks ago, General Abubakar has dissolved the bodies overseeing the transition, sacked the government and released hundreds of political prisoners, saying he is keenly aware of the need for national reconciliation.

On Monday, General Abubakar will also hold talks with the visiting French Minister for Co-operation, Charles Josselin.

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