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Nigeria's Presidential Race Gets More Complicated

Nigeria's president Olusegun Obasanjo says he will turn power over to Vice President Atiku Abubakar If the vice president wins the April elections. But the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says Abubakar is barred from running because of allegations of corruption.

Instead, INEC has cleared his running mate, Senator Ben Obi, to run in his place. Innocent Chukwuma is chairman of the Transition Monitoring Group, an independent coalition of 250 civil society pro-democracy groups. He says what appear to be conciliatory comments by President Obasanjo are just conflicting signals that do not constitute a shift of his position against Atiku’s candidacy.

“The statement is at best a political statement because this is somebody that has done everything humanly possible to stop Atiku from contesting the election," he says.

He says recent comments by the president and actions by INEC may be an admission that Atiku has the law on his side.

“It is one way to look at it because they have been made to eat their words in recent times through declaration of the courts. So in that case you may see it as some welcome development," he says.

Chukwuma says Atiku should not give any serious consideration to what appears to be a softening of positions by the authorities. “The individuals and institutions behind them have clearly showed powers to go outside of the law to do what they want to do.”