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Thursday, December 10, 1998 Published at 08:37 GMT

World: Africa

Obasanjo's party wins Nigerian poll

The local polls were a first step towards civilian rule

The People's Democratic Party of Nigeria, which includes the former military leader, General Olusegun Obasanjo, has been declared the winner of Saturday's local elections.

General Obasanjo's party won 59% of the seats.

Nigeria in transition
Second in the poll with 26% was the All People's Party, which is made up of supporters of former military leader General Sani Abacha, who died in June.

The Alliance for Democracy (AD), which is dominant in the south-west, came third with just over 13%.

All three parties have qualified to take part in state and national elections early next year.

Misconduct accusations

[ image:  ]
But the AD's national secretary, Dr Udenta Udenta, has called for the elections to be cancelled and re-run in two zones - the south-east and the centre-south of the country.

Dr Udenta said AD leaders from those two zones had decided that unless the results were quashed, elections re-scheduled and suspect election officials re-deployed, they might not be prepared to participate in future rounds of the transitional elections.

He alleged a conspiracy using highly placed people to secure a PDP victory. He said results had been declared in places where no voting had been taking place, security agents had refused to take action on violations of electoral law and an attempt had been made to assassinate one of the AD's candidates.

His allegations come after international observers praised the poll, saying they augur well for state and national elections due early next year.

First step to democracy

The local elections were the first stage in the military government's plan to restore the country to civilian rule by next May.

Parties had to secure at least 5% in two-thirds of Nigeria's 36 states to proceed to further rounds of voting. The intention was to try to force the parties to attract support across the deep ethnic and regional divisions of Nigerian society.

Politicians are now likely to embark on a frenetic few weeks of bargaining and deal-making as they seek to secure their own positions in Nigeria's emerging democratic landscape.

The PDP was successful in building alliances between Nigeria's various ethnic groups and regions. But the AD gained by having the majority ethnic Yoruba voting for them en masse - even though Mr Obasanjo is himself a Yoruba.

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