BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in:  World: Africa
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Tuesday, 21 April, 1998, 07:34 GMT 08:34 UK
Nigeria attacked for scrapping election
abacha
Britain and the US say General Abacha should be more democratic
Britain and the United States have criticised the Nigerian Government's decision to cancel presidential elections due in August, and hold a referendum instead.

The decision was taken after all five officially authorised political parties in Nigeria backed the military leader General Sani Abacha as their candidate.

In the referendum, to be held on August 1, Nigerians will vote either for or against General Sani Abacha.

The British Government said cancelling elections would not help the political process in Nigeria.

The Foreign Office Minister Tony Lloyd said: "It is difficult to see how an election in which only a single candidate is put forward by all five registered, and government-sponsored, parties, can be judged free, fair and inclusive."

US State Department spokesman James Rubin accused the Nigerian Government of manipulating the transition to democracy to secure General Abacha's nomination.

"Thus far, we believe this transition that he promised in June 1994 is seriously and fatally flawed," he said.

"We urge General Abacha to live up to his promise to his fellow Nigerians and the entire world and to refuse the nomination so that a genuine transition to civilian democratic rule may take place in the August elections."

Nigeria has said the general might stand as a military officer, not a civilian.

Abacha's struggle to hold power

The BBC Lagos correspondent says presidential elections are a key part of the military's four-year-old promise to hand over power to a civilian government this year.

meeting
Opposition groups say the political process has been manipulated
General Abacha had publicly refused to put himself forward as a candidate.

However there have been a rapid series of political developments over the last few days, which seem designed to allow the general to claim his hand is being forced.

On Monday, the Grassroots Democratic Movement became the last of the five government-registered political parties to adopt the general as its presidential candidate, although there were tense scenes in the hall as the voting took place.

When the party's constitution was hurriedly amended to allow the general, a non-party member, to be nominated, some of his opponents started shouting in fury: "We don't want cheating. We don't want Abacha".

About 20 armed riot police entered the hall and stayed there throughout the rest of the proceedings.

Opposition boycott

Nigeria's political opposition has said it will boycott elections for a national assembly due to take place on Saturday, and any elections thereafter.

The opposition has called on its supporters to embark on a programme of mass action to disrupt the government's political programme.

Civil unrest has been on the rise over the last two months in Nigeria, as the well-organised campaign for General Abacha to stay on in power has gained momentum.

See also:

09 Oct 98 | Despatches
Nigeria under Commonwealth spotlight
18 Apr 98 | Africa
Nigeria parties back Abacha
20 Apr 98 | Africa
Abacha to face election unopposed
20 Apr 98 | Analysis
Nigeria: A history of dictatorship
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories