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Thursday, September 16, 1999 Published at 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK

World: Africa

'Tell the truth' Nigerian diplomats told

President Obasanjo: "Tell the truth" he says

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has told his newly-appointed ambassadors that they no longer need to feel ashamed of their country.

"I believe you can now afford to tell the truth," President Obasanjo told more than 80 diplomats taking up their posts in foreign capitals.

All former Nigerian ambassadors were recalled in July.

Under the military regime of General Sani Abacha who died last year, many Nigerian ambassadors found themselves forced to defend growing accusations about the country's human rights record.

As Nigeria became more and more isolated on the international scene, diplomats came under increasing pressure from the countries in which they were based.

Seeking investment

President Obasanjo took office in May at the head of Nigeria's fledging democracy and pledged to rid the country of corruption and respect human rights.

He told the ambassadors that his government would work for peace on the continent and attempt to revitalise Nigeria's economy.

He urged them to persuade all Africans that Nigeria offers huge potential to investors.

"We and they stand to gain a great deal from their investment in the future of this great country," he said.

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