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Opposition to Nigeria's Vote Mull Options

Opposition leaders, lawmakers and pro-democracy activists in Nigeria are mulling options on how to contest results from this month's fraud-filled and ruling-party dominated state and federal elections. Many of them are not sure if the court system is the proper avenue. VOA's Nico Colombant reports from Abuja.

Members of the upper and lower houses of parliament organized closed-door emergency sessions in the capital, amid debate on how to respond to the recently concluded elections, viewed as fraudulent by international and local observers, and whether they should seek a re-vote.

Some Nigerian politicians alleged there were hints of discontent in army barracks as well.

A pro-democracy activist, Jibrin Ibrahim, said there was too much disorganization during the voting for courts to be able to handle grievances.

"A lot of polling stations did not have results sheets, which should have been signed by all the party agents," he said. "In our court system, these results sheets would be required as evidence that those results did not correspond to the votes of the people. That is why we have come to the conclusion that this is a national, political and constitutional crisis and our constitution provides for the national assembly to intervene in such a context."

A court case to reject the similarly flawed 2003 presidential election was rejected more than two years after it was introduced.

Emma Ezeazu from the Nigerian Alliance for Credible Elections said civil society groups are meeting to consider an appeal for civil disobedience.

"Civil society groups in this country have clear programs. One of them includes the program of how the people can defend their mandates," she said.

But many ordinary Nigerians seem disillusioned by the electoral process and resigned to the victory of the ruling party.

The private daily The Vanguard wrote "even a goat would have won the elections provided it had the backing of the People's Democratic Party."

The campaign headquarters of the president-elect Musa Yar'Adua was one of the few places where cheering broke out.

The declared winner with about 70 percent of the vote, according to officials, called for all Nigerians to accept him as the next president.

"The contest has come and gone so must our differences dissipate in the cause of the greater good of moving our dear nation ahead," he said. "Especially, I wish to thank my worthy opponents in the presidential election, you are all respected and respectable Nigerians and leaders in your own rights."

He said none of them had called to congratulate him. Outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo, whose efforts to change the constitution and seek a third term, were rejected by the outgoing parliament, has warned any attempts to destabilize Nigeria will be suppressed.

One of the many disappointed international observers, Madeleine Albright, says there is plenty of time for challenges to be considered before the new government is scheduled to be installed May 29.

"We have to see how these processes are carried out," she said. "We have made many, many, statements about the lack of credibility, the flaws, the fact that the will of the people has not been properly reflected. But we also think that there is a way here at this time to work through the process, before any new government is to be inaugurated, anyway. There is a very interesting and delicate five-week period here when everything has to work properly and does provide a pathway to a peaceful resolution."

Leading opposition candidates have vowed the results will not stand, but they have yet to explain what exactly their strategy will be.