Supporters of Nigerian vice president Atiku Abubakar have launched a new political party, the Advanced Congress of Democrats. The group opposes President Olusegun Obasanjo's possible run for re-election in 2007. Vice President Abubakar’s allies formed the new party after leaving the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. They objected when Mr. Obasanjo’s supporters launched a bid to change the constitution to allow him to run for third term. Mr. Abubakar wants to contest next year's presidential election and has been rallying opponents of President Obasanjo.
The spokesman for the new party, Lai Mohammed, told English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje why it was formed. “The major parties that could speak in opposition to the PDP are actually factionalized. Therefore, there is actually no other platform apart from the new party that can really act as an opposition party.” Mohammed says the main objective of the ADC is “to restore dignity to the electoral process and defend democracy.” He characterizes efforts to amend the constitution as “unconstitutional, immoral and illegal.”
The spokesman says opposition to the third term amendment is only one element of the ADC’s platform. He says the party has a plan “to resolve the Niger Delta conflict and develop the region, provide a standard railroad network, explore new sources of energy, arrest the degradation of the educational system and create lots of jobs for our people.” Mohammed dismisses concerns that the third term controversy is dividing the country along religious and regional lines. He says the issue has nothing to do with region or religion, with “both Christians and Moslems united in their opposition to amending the constitution.”