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U.S. spy chief warns of crisis in Nigeria

Posted by CNN on 2007/02/27 | Views: 2570 |

U.S. spy chief warns of crisis in Nigeria


The director of U.S. intelligence warned Tuesday of instability in Nigeria amid concern that outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo is manipulating the political process ahead of April's elections.

U.S. intelligence director: Unrest in Nigeria may spill into neighboring countries
Feud between Nigerian president and vice president heighten tensions
Attacks continue on foreign workers in the Niger Delta oil-producing region


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The director of U.S. intelligence warned Tuesday of instability in Nigeria amid concern that outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo is manipulating the political process ahead of April's elections.

Mike McConnell, who laid out global threats facing the United States for a Senate committee, said that unrest in Africa's most populous country could spill into neighboring countries.

The April 27 presidential elections would lead to Nigeria's first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power since independence from Britain in 1960.

But a feud between Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar has heightened tensions. The two politicians were elected together in 1999 after a period of brutal military rule. They fell out publicly last year after Obasanjo's supporters tried to amend the civilian constitution's term limits and allow the president to run again this year.

Abubakar, who has long held presidential ambitions, refused to support the amendment, and the two leaders traded accusations of corruption before Abubakar bolted from the party to join the opposition.

McConnell repeated concerns raised by his predecessor, John Negroponte, last month about democratic transition in a country of 140 million that is infamous for graft and corruption, electoral and otherwise.

"The government's institutional foundations are hollow from decades of neglect and corruption and will continue to make the country susceptible to recurring crises in coming years," McConnell said.

Both warned of popular unrest over the poor distribution of revenues from the country's vast natural resources to its impoverished citizens. They said that the central government has been unable to stop rising crime, armed militancy and attacks on foreign workers in the Niger Delta oil-producing region.

A wave of attacks by Nigerian militants have cut oil exports by 25 percent since early 2006.

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