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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 April 2006, 09:42 GMT 10:42 UK
Nigerians table third-term bill
Nigerian Vice-President Atiku Abubakar
Vice-President Atiku Abubakar wants his shot at the presidency
A proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the Nigerian president to serve more than two terms has been put before the country's parliament. If passed, the law will let President Olusegun Obasanjo contest elections next year when his second term expires.

On Tuesday a group of senators proposed a package of constitutional amendments including the term limit extension.

The issue of a third term is dominating political debate in Nigeria, the BBC's Mannir Dan Ali reports.

It has led to an open confrontation between President Obasanjo, and Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, who opposes the change.

For the changes to be passed, they will require the support of at least two-thirds of National Assembly members, and at least two-thirds of the 36 state houses of assembly.

Debate

The debate on the proposals will start after the Easter break, and a parliamentary vote could be several weeks away, our correspondent says.

The changes, if passed, would allow state governors as well as the president to serve three terms, and have hence attracted the support of many incumbent state governors.

President Obsanjo was elected in 1999, and re-elected in 2003. Under the present constitution, he will have to stand down in 2007. He has not commented publicly on whether he wants to run again or not.

Mr Obasanjo's supporters have been campaigning for the constitution to be changed, in the face of vigorous opposition from various groups.

The issue has divided the ruling People's Democratic Party and Nigerian public opinion.


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