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Thursday, March 5, 1998 Published at 06:51 GMT

World: Africa

Nigerians rally in support of Abacha
image: [ General Abacha: election candidate? ]
General Abacha: election candidate?

Tens of thousands of Nigerians took part in a second day of rallies in the capital, Abuja, calling on the military ruler, Sani Abacha, to stand in presidential elections later this year.

General Abacha has not said whether he will stand.

Police in Lagos say they are preparing charges against more than 30 people arrested at an opposition rally in Lagos on Tuesday.

A human rights group in the United States - Human Rights Watch - has called for their immediate release. It said they include the former president of the Civil Liberties Organisation, Olisa Agbakoba.

P> The BBC Lagos correspondent says the opposition believes the military provided the funds for the rally in Abuja, which was widely seen as the launch of General Abacha's election campaign.

She says the many of the people who attended the festival were members of youth and women's groups and local government employees.

Nigerian police break-up anti-government march

On Tuesday, heavily-armed police used tear gas to break-up the rally of 5,000 anti-government protesters in Lagos. The march was the biggest of its kind in recent years.

Chief Gani Fawehinmi, a leading opposition figure, condemned the government for banning the demonstration while another in favour of the ruling General Sani Abacha was allowed to proceed.


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