Thursday, Apr 24, 2003
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LAGOS, (NIGERIA), APRIL 23. In the Nigerian Presidential election, Olusegun Obasanjo, was re-elected by a wide margin, officials announced on Tuesday, even as the Opposition groups rejected the outcome as rigged and threatened mass protests.
Out of more than 42 million votes, Mr. Obasanjo won 62 per cent in the weekend ballot, compared to 32 per cent secured by his rival, former junta leader, Muhammadu Buhari, the Election Commission said. More than 2.5 million votes were declared invalid.
The vote is a test of stability and democracy in Africa's most populous nation.
International monitors have expressed concern about fraud, including ballot-box stuffing and bribery.
In an acceptance speech, Mr. Obasanjo urged his opponents to accept his victory peacefully. "Good politicians should be really good sportsmen, showing magnanimity and humility in victory and gallantry and good-naturedness in defeat," he said. "I'm humbled by the fact that I'm the people's choice," he added, describing the election as "peaceful, free and transparent".
Election-related violence has been sporadic in a country frequently riven by bloodletting. But tensions were running high after Opposition officials claimed the vote was rigged.
Don Etiebet, chairman of Mr. Buhari's party, stormed into the Election Commission headquarters shortly before the announcement, refusing to endorse the results.
He warned that the Opposition supporters "will act appropriately according to human nature."
"We do not need to tell the people what to do. They will know what to do when their mandate has been trampled upon," he said, without elaborating. Officials in Mr. Buhari's party have warned that the people `will fight,' and he himself has threatened mass action, a term that in Nigeria generally refers to violent protests.
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