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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 November 2007, 17:26 GMT
Nigerian doubts over Africom base
By Alex Last
BBC News, Abuja

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua speaking to the UN General Assembly (26/09/2007)
President Yar'Adua said he would prefer a regional standby force
The Nigerian government has said it would not allow its country to be used as a base for the US-African military command, Africom.

At a meeting of the National Council of State, President Umaru Yar'Adua said that Nigeria was also opposed to any such bases in West Africa.

He said Nigeria would prefer to work towards the establishment of an African standby force under regional direction.

The decision leaves Liberia as the only country willing to host the Americans.

There has been considerable unease in many African nations about American plans to establish a new military command for the continent.

Largely to allay those fears, US deputy secretary of state John Negroponte went on an African tour last week, outlining his plans.

But Nigeria, West Africa's regional superpower and key oil supplier to the US, remains unconvinced.

Regional influence

"The president restated the position of Nigeria not permitting a US base in our country or sub-region but to work towards the establishment of an African standby force," said Governor Bukola Saraki after the meeting.

General William Ward
Gen William Ward will be the first commander of Africom

Nigeria is not alone in its opposition - South Africa and Libya have also voiced strong reservations.

They dislike the idea of an American military base in their own backyard, undermining their regional influence.

There is also concern that Africom is really an attempt to protect US oil and mineral interests in Africa, amid growing competition for resources from Asian economies.

Then there are fears about the continent being drawn into the US war on terror.

The US says the base is not about militarisation but consolidating existing operations under one single command, while helping Africans with military training and supporting peacekeeping and aid operations.

But for countries like Nigeria, help is one thing - a base is quite another.

The controversy over Africom
03 Oct 07 |  Africa
US to get Africa command centre
06 Feb 07 |  Americas
Profile: Lt Gen William Ward
07 Feb 05 |  Americas

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