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In Nigeria, No Evidence Of Vote Rigging Produced - 2003-04-17

The head of Nigeria's electoral body says the opposition has not produced evidence to back up charges of vote rigging during last week's parliamentary election.

Abel Guobadia the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), held a news conference earlier today (Thursday) in Abuja. He said INEC has not received any formal allegations from the parties who are accusing the ruling party of fraud.

Mr. Goubadia called on those with complaints to submit them to the commission so an official investigation can take place.

On Wednesday, Nigeria's leading opposition candidate accused the government of fraud during parliamentary elections.

Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigeria People's Party said any attempt to rig the upcoming presidential elections would result in mass action.

Mr. Buhari also called on INEC to hold new parliamentary elections in certain districts -- a demand the commission has rejected.

Mr. Buhari is the main challenger to President Olusegun Obasanjo. With more than three quarters of the vote declared in last Saturday's parliamentary balloting, Mr. Obasanjo's ruling People's Democratic Party is on course to win a majority in parliament.

Since Saturday's balloting, opposition parties have repeatedly charged numerous instances of irregularities. Among the accusations -- that local ruling party officials have stolen ballot boxes.

Election monitors have said the vote was free and fair -- although not without administrative and logistical problems. And at least 12 people have been killed in election-related violence.

Nigeria's elections are the first organized by a civilian government in 20 years.