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Rain and Disarray Stall Nigerian Elections - 2003-04-12


Rainstorms delayed voting in the capital, Abuja, and port city of Lagos today, but voters braved the weather and many viewed it as a blessing from God.

But those who made it out in the weather waited in long lines at polling stations across the country, where organizers did not have voting papers or ballot boxes ready. Many of Nigeria's 60-million eligible voters did not receive voter cards ahead of the balloting.

Today Nigerians are voting for a new national assembly -- 360 representatives for the House and 109 members of the Senate. Next weekend the elections continue, when voters will choose a new president and new state governors.

The campaign has been marred by political and ethnic clashes, but so far there are no reports of violence. Thousands of police are patrolling the country's streets.

The polling is viewed as a key test of Nigeria's democracy. It is the first election since military rule ended in 1999.

The results are not expected until early next week.