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Thursday, July 8, 1999 Published at 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK

World: Africa

Obasanjo faces questions over Ecomog

Nigerian troops stay in Sierra Leone as part of the peace deal

By BBC Lagos Correspondent Barnaby Phillips

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has returned home after playing a crucial role in the Sierra Leone peace process - but will now face questions over why Nigerian soldiers will be staying in Sierra Leone for the immediate future.

Sierra Leone
The estimated 10,000 Nigerian troops in Sierra Leone make up the bulk of the Ecomog peace-keeping force, and the expensive peace-keeping operation is not popular in Nigeria.

Most Nigerians feel that their economic difficulties are so acute that the country should not be spending money on foreign adventures, no matter how well-intentioned.

President Obasanjo's government has not yet commented on the peace agreement, nor explained its terms to the Nigerian people.

Election promise

During this year's election campaign, both president Obasanjo and his defeated rival, Olu Falae, promised to bring Nigerian troops back from Sierra Leone as soon as possible. Many Nigerian politicians argue that it is Britain and America who ought to be making the biggest contribution to the peace effort.

In the past, Nigerian military governments have conducted their operations in Sierra Leone with a degree of secrecy, refusing to publish casualty figures or any other details.

But with members of the new Nigerian senate this week demanding to know more about what is happening in Sierra Leone, President Obasanjo will be under pressure to do some explaining to the public.

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