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Page last updated at 13:22 GMT, Tuesday, 5 May 2009 14:22 UK

Town poll tests Nigeria democracy

Nigeria troops
Roads in the Ekiti state town are deserted except for Nigerian military

Heavily-armed police and soldiers are out in force in a town in south-western Nigeria as people vote in a renewed attempt to elect a state governor.

A re-run election last week ended in chaos, with allegations of violence, ballot-rigging and intimidation.

The Ekiti State vote is seen as a must-win for both main political parties.

The initial poll two years ago was won by the ruling People's Democratic Party candidate but the result was overturned amid claims of mass vote-rigging.

President Umaru Yar'Adua has said the situation in Ekiti shows the need for urgent reform of Nigeria's election system.

The BBC's Caroline Duffield is in the state's capital of Oye Ekiti, where Tuesday's vote re-run is being held, and she says roads surrounding the constituency are deserted except for the Nigerian military.

'Very nervous'

The area has been the scene of election violence many times and voters are very nervous, she adds.

Map

Efforts to elect a new governor have been marked by violence and intimidation since the man elected back in 2007, Segun Oni, was thrown out of office after massive vote-rigging emerged.

The state's election commissioner was supposed to announce fresh poll results last week but she refused to do so, alleging fraud, and temporarily went into hiding.

Her actions sparked angry demonstrations, involving women marching half-naked in the streets in anger.

The election is seen as strategically important for both parties.

Our correspondent says the People's Democratic Party is hoping to prevent the opposition Action Congress winning a stronghold that could unite with the east of the country to challenge the governing party.

Both parties have been accused of hiring thugs to intimidate people, bribery of election officials and vote-rigging.



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