Nigerian vote tests commitment to reform Many hope elections lead to democratic government

December 06, 1998|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

LAGOS, Nigeria -- Five months after the death of Nigeria's longtime military dictator raised the prospect of greater political openness here, Nigerians cast ballots yesterday for local government officers across the country.

The voting, viewed as an early test of the new government's seriousness about reform, appears to have been generally peaceful and the turnout high, according to government officials and Western diplomats.

In Lagos, with 8 million people the country's biggest city, the normally traffic-choked streets were eerily deserted. Drivers 0` obeyed a curfew, and teen-age boys transformed streets into soccer fields.

Residents lined up before 8 a.m. at polling places across the city. Many expressed hope that their votes would lead to what the president, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, has promised will be a transition to a democratic government in May.

Pub Date: 12/06/98

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