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Tuesday, December 15, 1998 Published at 01:20 GMT

World: Africa

Three Nigerian parties qualify for polls

Politicians are now building alliances ahead of the next vote

Nigeria's National Electoral Commission has announced that three of the nine political parties that contested local elections this month will be allowed to participate in state and national elections early next year.

Nigeria in transition
They are the People's Democratic Party (PDP), the All People's Party (APP), and the Alliance for Democracy (AD).

The AD, which mainly draws its support from the Yoruba people in the south-west, did not actually meet the required level of votes from all areas of the country. But the Electoral Commission invoked a clause whereby if only two parties qualified the party which finished third would also be allowed through.

[ image:  ]
The BBC Nigeria correspondent says this means that the Yoruba people, who have been such vociferous critics of military rule, have not been disenfranchised.

The PDP, which easily won the local elections is made up of politicians opposed to the late military ruler General Sani Abacha. Their votes alongside those of the APP comprising former supporters of General Abacha, accounted for around three-quarters of those polled.

Emerging democracy

[ image: The first stage in the transition to civilian rule]
The first stage in the transition to civilian rule
Politicians from the six disqualified parties are now likely to embark on a frenetic few weeks of bargaining and deal-making with the three remaining parties as they seek to secure their own positions in Nigeria's emerging democratic landscape.

Within the three, rival factions have already begun to manoeuvre themselves for positions of power and influence.

Twenty-seven million Nigerians, or about 47% of the electorate voted in the local elections which were the first stage in the military government's plan to restore the country to civilian rule by next May.

The presidential elections of 1993, whose annulment led to years of political turmoil, drew a turnout of only 35% and our correspondent says the figures point to a high turnout by the standards of recent Nigerian polls.

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