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Vol 50 No 24

Published 4th December 2009


Nigeria

Ailing president, procrastinating politics

The latest illness of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua adds urgency to calls for far-reaching electoral and political reforms ahead of national elections due by early 2011. Despite mounting calls for Yar’Adua to step down on health grounds after he was spirited off to Saudi Arabia for treatment of acute pericarditis, his cabinet ministers insist he must remain in charge. Meanwhile, activists and opposition politicians are reorganising to challenge the incumbent People’s Democratic Party’s overwhelming grip on power.

With national elections due by early 2011. The financial stakes are huge - control of some US$100 billion of annual oil and gas revenue. The last elections in 2007 plumbed new depths in electoral violence, fraud and vote-buying. The incumbent People's Democratic Party (PDP), using its control of the ballot count and embezzled public resources, vigorously out-rigged the opposition, which (where it could) fought back with rigging and violence.

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