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Thursday, February 18, 1999 Published at 15:06 GMT

World: Africa

Who's who in Nigeria's elections

Will Nigerians believe the campaign slogans?

By Africa Reporter Caroline Hawley

Of the nine political parties that emerged following the death of the former military ruler, Sani Abacha, in June 1998, three won enough votes in local elections last December to qualify to take part in the transition to civilian rule.

None have published manifestos, or strong ideological positions. All have pledged - in mostly vague terms - to improve Nigerian living standards. Click below to find out more about them:

People's Democratic Party
The Alliance for Democracy
All People's Party

Two presidential candidates have emerged. Click here for profiles:

General Olusegun Obasanjo
Olu Falae

[ image: The move towards democracy has been rapid in recent months]
The move towards democracy has been rapid in recent months
The two presidential candidates have a good deal in common. Neither is a newcomer to Nigeria's complicated political scene. Both spent time in jail under the former military ruler, General Abacha, and were released shortly after his death.

Both are Christians standing for the presidency of a country with a large Muslim population. Both are Yorubas from the south-west of the country, where opposition to military rule has been strongest, and both have chosen northerners as their running mates. Each of them has criticised Nigeria's expensive military involvement in Sierra Leone.

People's Democratic Party
The biggest party is the PDP - the People's Democratic Party - a coalition of veteran politicians, including several retired generals, many of whom opposed General Abacha. The PDP won a clear lead in local elections in December, prompting the other two parties - the Alliance for Democracy and All People's Party - into forming an electoral pact.

Alliance for Democracy
The Alliance for Democracy draws its support from the Yoruba people in the south-west of the country, who've been at the forefront of calls for an end to military rule. The party came third in December's local elections, but swept the board in the south-west in both the local and state elections.

All People's Party
The All People's Party is Nigeria's second largest, made up of wealthy business people and politicians, many of whom backed General Abacha and had helped campaign for his self-succession. It won about one quarter of seats in local elections. The success of the People's Democratic Party in December's local elections forced the All People's Party into an unlikely electoral alliance with the Alliance for Democracy. Although the two parties have little in common, they have agreed to field a joint presidential candidate, Olu Falae. Divisions within the party are likely to harm it at the ballot box.

[ image: General Obasanjo says he can end polarisation between civilian and military]
General Obasanjo says he can end polarisation between civilian and military

General Olusegun Obasanjo
The PDP's presidential candidate. General Olusegun Obasanjo is a blunt-speaking former military ruler in his early 60s, who has built up a reputation as an international statesman and was once considered as a possible candidate for the post of United Nations Secretary General. In 1979, General Obasanjo became Nigeria's only military leader to give up power voluntarily. At party primaries this month, General Obasanjo beat his main rival, Alex Ekwueme, a former civilian vice-president who has strong support among the Ibo people in south-eastern Nigeria.

For a fuller profile of General Obasanjo click here.

Olu Falae
A 60-year old economist and former finance minister - with a degree from Yale University in the United States, Olu Falae has spent much of his career as a civil servant and also spent five years running a commercial bank during the 1980s. He was a member of the opposition grouping that spearheaded opposition to General Abacha, Nadeco, and was jailed in 1997. He's seen as a skilled technocrat, and has promised to turn Nigeria's battered economy around. Under the electoral alliance between the Alliance for Democracy and the All People's Party, Olu Falae is standing as the two parties' joint candidate for the presidency - against General Obsajano.

For a fuller profile of Olu Falae click here.

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