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Published 23rd January 1998

Vol 39 No 2


Nigeria

Plots, lies and videotapes

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Amid general discontent and military nervousness, the Abacha regime's latest claim of a coup plot is unlikely to be its last

General Sani Abacha is pulling out all the stops to gain maximum political advantage from the latest alleged coup plot. Videotaped scenes from interrogations of the accused, including Abacha's former Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant Gen. Oladipo Diya, have been shown to carefully selected retired military officers, traditional rulers, journalists and other prominent figures. So have audiotapes of alleged meetings between the suspects and other senior officers, in which the plan to assassinate Abacha and hand over power to Diya were apparently discussed. The regime has also orchestrated mobs of demonstrators to march singing Abacha's praises and heap abuse on the 'coup plotters'. All this seems to be intended to portray Abacha as a national saviour who must stand (probably alone) in August's scheduled presidential election. But the evidence of a plot disclosed so far remains highly ambiguous.


Cautious but determined

Economics interrupt the honeymoon with Eritrea but the balancing act goes on

Premier Meles Zenawi maintains his personal friendship with Eritrean President Issayas Aferworki and recently told television viewers that bilateral relations remained 'strong and ...


Zero tolerance

Hardline policing and economic pressures presage a tense political year

Car thefts at gun-point, a high-speed chase through the streets of Accra on a hot Sunday afternoon, live commentary on the car-chase on local radio, a track-suited President Jerry ...


Desert diplomacy

Hopes for peace revive but neither side may accept defeat in the referendum

Hopes of resolving the 25-year conflict in Western Sahara were sharply raised by the 7 December announcement of a referendum on the territory's future. Yet despite the success of f...


Peace pains

Local elections will help democracy as the economy booms - amid high unemployment

The electoral register is complete, the campaign has opened and the municipal elections due on 29 May should signal another step in the transition to normality. Once dismissed abro...


Rules of the game

Popular pressure chips away at (democratic) one-party rule while rebels mine Casamance


Targeting Club Med

Every one of nearly 400 beds at the beautiful Club Mediterranée at Cap Skirring, near the Guinea-Bissau border, was full for Christmas. But guests were taken aback by notices warni...



Pointers

Curbing the press

Security officials around President Lansana Conté are cracking down ahead of the presidential election scheduled for December, when their man and his Parti de l’ Unité et du Progrè...


Hot chocolate

A scalding splash has landed on the next round of talks with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, due early next month. As he prepares to bid for a multi-billion dollar ...