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Protests Planned For Obasanjo Inauguration - 2003-05-27


The main opposition party in Nigeria has vowed to press on with protests against Thursday's inauguration of re-elected President Olusegun Obasanjo, despite police bans against such protests.

The national spokesman for the All Nigeria People's Party, Nnamdi Olebara, is calling for mass protests by opposition supporters from now until the inauguration.

Mr. Olebara says the party is leading a peaceful campaign to show the international community and Nigerians that the April elections were fraudulent.

He says, "It is not violent. We are appealing to the conscience of the people that it is not right, that the election was rigged. Come the next time around, victory will be determined by the quantity of guns and legal and illegal soldiers you have, and the quantity of money you have. This promises nothing good for this country. This is what we are trying to correct."

Mr. Olebara did not specify when or where marches would take place. He said after Thursday's inauguration, his party will not recognize the new government.

The losing presidential candidate of the All Nigeria People's Party, Muhammadu Buhari, has already asked Nigeria's Court of Appeal to cancel the results of the April 19th vote. Nigerian and international observers found the election was marred by rigging, mainly in parts of the south and east, but that overall the results were not affected.

Mr. Obasanjo was declared the winner with more than 60-percent of the vote.

Police have refused to grant permits for protest rallies before the inauguration. They have also blocked planned protests in the northern opposition stronghold of Kano.

Meanwhile, soldiers have been sent to the southeastern Niger Delta region to protect oil installations, following threats of election protests there as well.

Previous civilian-run presidential elections in Nigeria have been blocked by military takeovers.

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