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 Friday, 20 December, 2002, 15:57 GMT
Nigerian election dates set
Voters being registered
Voter registration was problematic earlier this year
Nigeria's presidential elections will be held on 19 April next year, the electoral commission has announced.

Local and parliamentary polls will be held a week or two either side.
NIGERIA'S ELECTIONS
19 April: Presidential and state governors
26 April: Possible run-off
12 April: Federal parliament
3 May: Regional assemblies

The BBC correspondent in Lagos, Dan Isaacs, says that if President Olusegun Obasanjo is selected as his party's candidate, he will be the most serious contender in the election.

Since the 1999 elections which ended 16 years of military rule, thousands of people have been killed in ethnic and religious violence.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) has registered 30 parties for the election.

Just three were allowed to contest the previous poll.

Correspondents say that the large number of parties competing is likely to present a logistical nightmare for Inec.

No hope

On Thursday, former Vice President Alex Ekwueme formally launched his presidential campaign.

He will vie for the People's Democratic Party nomination with Mr Obasanjo, who defeated him in 1999 primaries.

President Olusegun Obasanjo
Obasanjo is standing for re-election

"A crisis has engulfed Nigeria," Mr Ekwueme said. "The economy is dropping... and our youths are hopeless, without a future."

Mr Ekwueme, 70, is from the south-east, which fought a bitter war for independence in 1967-70.

In 1999, Mr Obasanjo won with the help of northern power brokers but he has lost some support in the Muslim north over his opposition to the reintroduction of Sharia law.

Water and jobs

The BBC Nigeria correspondent, Dan Isaacs, says that if Mr Obasanjo wins his party's nomination, he is likely to be the most serious candidate.

He says that electricity, water and unemployment will be the main election issues.

Former Foreign Minister Ike Nwachukwu and former northern military ruler Muhammadu Buhari have also announced that they will contest next year's poll.

Our correspondent says that keeping Nigeria whole and one for another electoral term is a crucial issue.

The most recent outbreak of religious violence led to the deaths of more than 220 people in the northern city of Kaduna in November.

Some analysts fear that next year's elections may turn violent.


Key stories

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See also:

17 Sep 02 | Africa
28 Aug 02 | Africa
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