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Monday, 20 April, 1998, 07:51 GMT 08:51 UK
Abacha to face election unopposed
General Abacha has yet to say whether he will stand
The last of Nigeria's authorised political parties has announced that it is joining the other four in backing the military leader, General Sani Abacha, as its candidate for presidential elections in August.

The decision means that if, as widely expected, the general chooses to stand, he will be unopposed.

The Grassroots Democratic Movement reached its decision after all night discussions at the party's convention. General Abacha won twice as many votes as his nearest rival - a former police chief, MD Yusuf, in a ballot held amongst party delegates gathered from around the country.

Initially the party had said it would not accept General Abacha as its candidate, because he was not a party member. But after hours of intense negotiation, the party's constitution was amended to accomodate the general.

MDYusuf's supporters held a small demonstration outside the stadium where the convention was being held. Earlier, a senior party official resigned saying he did not want to be part of a scheme to impose a key candidate on the party.

Now all five of Nigeria's government-registered parties have adopted General Abacha as their candidate.

The BBC Lagos Correspondent, Hillary Anderson, says that if General Abacha now declares his intention to stay on in power, as it is widely expected he will, he will stand unopposed. The matter may either go to a referendum or he will be voted in by the national assembly to be elected from among the five parties this Saturday.

Meanwhile, the opposition, which has played no part in the government's programme for a transition to democracy, has declared that it will boycott the elections on the basis that there can be no democracy if the people are not given a choice.

See also:

09 Oct 98 | Despatches
Nigeria under Commonwealth spotlight
18 Apr 98 | Africa
Nigeria parties back Abacha
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