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Nigerians Vote for President - 2003-04-19


Nigerians are going to the polls Saturday in a landmark presidential election. But tensions are high amid fears of unrest and allegations of vote-rigging.

Incumbent President Olusegun Obasanjo has warned his rivals against inciting any unrest, and the country's police chief has vowed to crack down on anyone who tries to disrupt the voting.

Last week's legislative elections were marred by violence in the Niger Delta region, which kept the polls from opening in some areas, although voting was peaceful at most polling stations nationwide. However, reports of serious irregularities in some areas sparked anger among opposition candidates.

Mr. Obasanjo's main rival for the presidency, former General Muhammadu Buhari, accused the ruling party of rigging the National Assembly vote and threatened "mass action" if he thinks the presidential poll is fixed.

Both men are ex-military rulers who have entered politics as civilians. Election officials are hoping the vote will be the first civilian-run poll in the country's history not to be cut short by a military coup.