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Nigerians Vote in Legislative Elections - 2003-04-12

People in Nigeria are going to the polls Saturday in the first of several elections that could be a test for the country's four-year old democracy.

Nigerians are casting ballots for a new National Assembly, picking 320 members of the lower House of Representatives and 109 in the Senate. Thirty parties are competing in the election, the first to be held since military rule ended in Nigeria in 1999.

The poll is also the first legislative election to be held in Africa's most populous country in 20 years.

The legislative vote will be followed by presidential and state gubernatorial elections in one week. President Olusegun Obasanjo will seek reelection. The run-up to these general elections has been marred by ethnic violence and fears of fraud.

Ethnic Ijaws in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger River Delta on Friday vowed to prevent the polls from opening in their region, as part of a dispute over electoral boundaries.