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Saturday, 3 August, 2002, 17:45 GMT 18:45 UK
Nigeria puts off elections again
Elections in 1999
General elections next year may also be delayed

Elections for nearly 800 local councils in Nigeria have been postponed for the third time - this time indefinitely.

The elections are to reconstitute the councils, whose tenure expired two months ago.

However they are being held up by a combination of political scheming, legal obstacles, and allegations of corruption.

These were to be the first countrywide elections to be held in Nigeria since its return to democratic civil rule three years ago.

Court order

The official reason given by state governors for the postponement of the council elections is the failure of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to compile a fresh voters' list.

INEC has blamed the government for not giving it forms for the exercise at the right time.

Only last month, INEC registered three new parties in addition to the existing three, bringing the number of political parties in Nigeria to six.

These new parties have gone to court to seek postponement of the elections in order to have time to organise properly.

And to compound matters, INEC commissioners are being investigated by the police for alleged corruption in the awarding of contracts for the voter registration exercise.

In the circumstances, no one knows exactly when voter registration will start - so the elections are still many months away.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Elizabeth Blunt
"It is hard to see how the vote can go ahead"

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26 Jul 02 | Africa
04 Jan 02 | Africa
18 Dec 01 | Africa
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