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 Friday, 27 December, 2002, 13:13 GMT
Ex-rebel contests Nigerian poll
Biafran fighter
Ibos fought for short-lived independence
The former leader of a rebel group which tried to secede from Nigeria in a civil war in the 1960s has been chosen by a political party as its candidate for next year's presidential election.

An Apga presidential candidate must be a transparently honest person

Apga chairman Chekwas Okorie
Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who declared a separatist Republic of Biafra for his south-eastern ethnic Ibo people in 1967, will run under the colours of the newly-registered All Progressive Grand Alliance (Apga).

The BBC's Souleimanu Habuba in Lagos says that the announcement did not come as a surprise for most Nigerians because, he says, Apga is a regional party with tribal allegiance.

President Olusegun Obasanjo has already declared that he will seek a second civilian term in office.

Nigerians are due to go to the polls on 19 April 2003 to elect a head of state to lead the country for the next four years.

Equal opportunities

Mr Odumegwu-Ojukwu, 68, has been selected because the party hopes he can defeat corruption, which is rampant in Nigeria.

"An Apga presidential candidate must be a transparently honest person. He must not have a track record of corruption. He must be a person of both national and international stature," Apga chairman Chekwas Okorie said.

BIAFRA WAR
One million deaths
1970: Biafrans defeated
Ojukwu exiled, then pardoned
2002: government pardons 80 ex-Biafran soldiers

Mr Ojukwu, who returned to Nigeria from exile more than 20 years ago, has promised to give equal opportunities to Nigerians, irrespective of tribe, religion and gender if he is elected.

It will be the first time in almost 20 years that elections have been held by a civilian government.

The last occasion, in 1983, was widely regarded to have been deeply flawed, and was followed after only a few months by a military takeover.

Civilian rule only returned in 1999, when Olusegun Obasanjo, himself a former military leader in the late 1970s, was elected president.

Agpa is one of 30 parties registered to contest next year's poll.

In 1999, only three parties were allowed and they had to prove that they had support from across the country in order to avoid regional or ethnically-based parties.


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03 Dec 02 | Africa
17 Sep 02 | Africa
18 Apr 01 | Africa
26 May 00 | Africa
29 Jan 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
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