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May 14, 2010

Nigeria President Promises to Work for Peace in Delta

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan says an amnesty deal reached with rebels in the oil-rich south is still on track, despite delays in implementing it.

Mr. Jonathan says his government is committed to peace in the Niger Delta and will work to better coordinate efforts to educate and reintegrate former militants into society.

The president made the comments Friday during his first visit to the Niger Delta since taking office last week.

Thousands of rebels in the region handed in their weapons last year as part of an amnesty deal offered by late president Umaru Yar'Adua.  The militants were promised education and jobs as part of the agreement.  However, the process stalled when President Yar'Adua became ill last November.

Earlier this week, Mr. Jonathan's administration said it would restart the amnesty program.

It said the program is to begin the first week of June and will offer education and job training officials hope will eventually reach 20,000 former militants.

Militants in the Niger Delta have carried out attacks on the oil industry since 2006, saying they want the region's residents to get more of its oil wealth.

More than four years of attacks on the pipelines have sharply cut Nigeria's oil output, allowing Angola to rival the country as Africa's leading oil producer.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.