Nigeria Votes (2003)

Children play in the street at Bundu waterfront, one of the sprawling shanty towns in Port Harcourt, Nigeria Wendy Bruere/IRIN
Children play in the street at Bundu waterfront, one of the sprawling shanty towns in Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Only two general elections in Nigeria have been organised by civilian governments since independence from Britain in 1960. In each case, the elections were marred by irregularities and violence. In each case, they were followed by military overthrows.

The presidential, legislative and state polls from 12 April to 3 May represent the third attempt by a civilian government to organise successful elections in Nigeria. Whatever the outcome of the the polls, Africa's most populous nation will still have to grapple with key issues that affect the well-being of its 120 million people. Communal and religious conflicts, and violence sparked by competition for resources figure high among these issues. This web special looks at the elections, the main players, the issue of conflict in general and in particular the Niger Delta question, one of the thorniest issues Nigeria's authorities and people are likely to face in the next four years. 

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