Nigerian Dictator Stops Return to Civilian Rule

NIGERIA'S military dictator voided the June 12 presidential elections yesterday, again blocking the country's return to civilian rule.

"These steps were taken to save our judiciary from being ridiculed and politicized locally and internationally," said a military decree signed by the ruler, President Ibrahim Babangida.

The results of the elections, which apparently were won by business tycoon Moshood Abiola, had been ordered suppressed by the Abuja High Court on June 15 after supporters of General Babangida claimed they were rigged. Yesterday's ruling did not say whether new elections would be held.

Babangida had promised to end the military's decade-long grip on power on Aug. 27, but was suspected of planning to derail the transition. He has ruled since 1985, when he toppled another military regime.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, has been under military rule for 23 of its 33 years of independence.

The elections were widely criticized. Mr. Abiola and his rival, Bashir Tofa, another wealthy industrialist, were close friends of the general, who created their political parties and banned other factions. Despite his friendship with Babangida, Abiola had declared himself the winner. He drew broad-based support even though turnout was estimated at only 30 percent. UN Monitors to Rwanda

About 100 United Nations peacekeepers have been sent to the Uganda-Rwanda border to try to stop Rwandan rebels from smuggling in weapons. The monitors, approved by the Security Council on Tuesday, could be the vanguard of a 2,000-member UN truce supervision mission, UN officials say.

The rebels and the Rwandan government have been talking in Arusha, Tanzania, for weeks, trying to reach a truce and a political settlement. A signing ceremony for a peace accord is expected today, UN spokesman Joe Sills says.

Hundreds of people have been killed and an estimated 1 million more forced from their homes by three years of fighting in northern Rwanda. The rebel Rwandese Patriotic Front, which is mostly made up of minority Tutsis, invaded Rwanda from Uganda in October 1990. Large numbers of Tutsis fled Rwanda during bloody power struggles with the majority Hutus more than three decades ago.

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