Nigeria in Political Transition [February 23, 2006]   [open pdf - 81KB]

"On June 8, 1998, General Sani Abacha, the military leader who took power in Nigeria in 1993, died of a reported heart attack and was replaced by General Abdulsalam Abubakar. On July 7, 1998, Moshood Abiola, the believed winner of the 1993 presidential election, also died of a heart attack during a meeting with U.S. officials. General Abubakar released political prisoners and initiated political, economic, and social reforms. He also established a new independent electoral commission and outlined a schedule for elections and transition to civilian rule, pledging to hand over power to an elected civilian government by May 1999. In late February 1999, former military leader General Olusegun Obasanjo was elected president and was sworn in on May 29, 1999. Obasanjo won 62.8% of the votes (18.7 million), while his challenger, Chief Olu Falae, received 37.2% of the votes (11.1 million). In mid-April 2003, President Obasanjo was re-elected, and the People's Democratic Party (PDP) won a majority in the legislative elections. The elections, however, were marred by serious irregularities and electoral fraud, according to international election observers. […] Nigeria continues to make progress in strengthening its fragile democracy but faces serious economic challenges. Nigeria's population, now 133 million, is projected to grow to over 260 million by 2025. Nigeria remains relatively stable, although ethnic and religious clashes in some parts of the country have led to massive displacement of civilian populations. Thousands of civilians have been killed over the past several years and many more wounded in religious clashes. Under President Obasanjo, Nigeria has emerged has a major player in Africa. President Obasanjo took a leading role in the creation of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and the African Union (AU). He is the current Chairman of the AU. President Obasanjo also played key roles in facilitating the exile of Liberian President Charles Taylor. Nigeria is also facilitating negotiations between the government of Sudan and the Darfur rebels. In August 2003, Nigeria sent an estimated 1,500 troops to Liberia as part of a West African-led peacekeeping force."

Report Number:
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB98046
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