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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                        (Aboard Air Force One)
For Immediate Release                                      March 1, 1999


Nigeria: Presidential Election Results

We welcome the peaceful conduct of elections in Nigeria and congratulate the people for choosing their own leader and their own destiny. We congratulate Olesegun Obasanjo, the declared winner for president, and Olu Falae, who ran a strong campaign. The elections are an important step in the process of restoring civilian democratic government in Nigeria -- a process that will help return Nigeria to its place as a leader in Africa.

There have been allegations of fraud in some areas of the country, and the Independent National Elections Commission should promptly investigate them. We hope all political parties and their supporters will work within this legal framework to pursue their concerns.

As in any democratic transition, this first election is only the first step. Nigeria's new government will face enormous challenges: creating accountable government, building support within the military for civilian rule, protecting human rights, and rebuilding the economy so it benefits all citizens. As the President made clear during his February 26 address, the United States is already helping Nigeria face these challenges, and, as it moves forward, we want to do more. We call on other nations to join us in aiding Nigeria's transition to democracy.