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Nigerian Opposition Candidates Call for Postponement of Presidential Vote


Saturday's presidential ballot in Nigeria appears headed for a crisis, as a coalition of opposition candidates calls for its postponement. Gilbert da Costa reports for the VOA from Abuja that the opposition's call is generating debate in Nigeria.

Nigerians are clearly agitated by the current political climate and the threat of more violence linked to the country's elections. Threats by opposition candidates to withdraw from this weekend's presidential vote have made the climate even more tense.

A coalition of 18 opposition candidates is also demanding the cancellation of last Saturday's flawed state polls and the firing of the national electoral commission.

The government has rejected opposition accusations that it rigged the ballot and insists the presidential election will go ahead, with or without the opposition.

On the streets of Abuja, Nigerians are quick to comment on the political situation.

"At this stage, to have a postponement or a total suspension of the elections could lead to other vices that could bring about a crisis in the country," said one respondent.

"We want a change of government. Let this government go, hand over to another government," said another one.

The authorities have strengthened security across the country, and troops battled gunmen in the northern city of Kano for the second day.

Nigeria's largest trade union, the Nigeria Labor Congress, is scheduled to meet Thursday on how to deal with the troubled elections.

Some union leaders are threatening to lead mass protests unless the results of some state polls are canceled.

The upcoming presidential election is expected to lead to the first handover of power from one civilian president to another since independence from Britain in 1960.