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Carter Applauds Nigeria Transition

January 22, 1999

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) _ Former President Jimmy Carter hailed Nigeria’s upcoming presidential elections and said Friday he would lead an observer mission during the balloting.

After an hour-long meeting with Nigerian military leader Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, Carter praised what he viewed as ``profound changes″ in the government’s stance toward democracy and human rights.

Carter told journalists he was confident the Feb. 27 elections will be ``honest, fair and transparent.″

Carter is the most prominent U.S. figure to visit Nigeria since the rule of the late dictator Gen. Sani Abacha.

Since arriving Tuesday, Carter has met with a cross section of Nigerian politicians, clergy, human rights activists and civic leaders.

The Atlanta-based Carter Center and the Washington-based National Democratic Institute for International Affairs are sponsoring the 60-member monitoring team that Carter will lead.

Nigeria has been governed by the military for all but 10 years since independence from Britain in 1960.

Since taking over last June following Abacha’s death, Abubakar has been praised by international observers for improving the country’s human rights record and promising to hand over power to election winners in May.

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