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Friday, 27 March, 1998, 16:26 GMT
US softens opposition to General Abacha's plans to stay in power

The United States appears to have changed its opposition to the Nigerian military ruler, Sani Abacha, running for president later this year.

Speaking to reporters in Cape Town, President Clinton said that if General Abacha were to stand, he hoped it would be as a civilian.

Mr Clinton said many militay leaders who had taken over chaotic situations in African countries had moved towards democracy, and that could happen in Nigeria as well.

In Lagos, the Nigerian opposition said President Clinton's remarks were diametrically opposed to Washington's former stance.

The State Department said two weeks ago that Nigerians needed a real transition to democracy, not another military regime dressed up in civilian clothes.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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