International attention to Nigeria since the death of General Abacha has focused on the transition process due to culminate on May 29, with numerous statements from Nigeria's bilateral trading partners and from multilateral organizations welcoming the election of Olusegun Obasanjo as president and the completion of the process of local, state and national elections. While some statements have noted concern about allegations of irregularities in the process, the international community—like many Nigerians—has been prepared to turn a relatively blind eye to electoral fraud in the interests of finally seeing the end of military government. For the same reason, there were few if any public expressions of concern at the New Year crackdown in the Niger Delta, though diplomats claimed to Human Rights Watch that private representations had been made emphasizing the need to find a political and not military solution to the crisis. The U.N. Commission on Human Rights, which for two years had voted to appoint a special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Nigeria, at its 1999 session adopted a resolution which expressed no concern of any kind at continuing human rights violations in Nigeria and decided simply to cease its consideration of the human rights situation.79 Barring a fresh military intervention into Nigerian politics, it is virtually certain that all remaining sanctions in place against Nigeria, imposed since the cancellation of the 1993 elections and the 1995 executions of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his codefendants, will be lifted. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund are also negotiating for a resumption of financial assistance to Nigeria, and members of the Paris Club for renegotiation of Nigeria's debt, upon the formal ending of military rule and the adoption by Nigeria of economic policies designed to curtail corruption, deregulation, privatization, and reallocation of resources towards social spending.
On March 9, 1999, Democratic Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, together with Rep. Cynthia Mckinney (D-GA), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), called for a congressional investigation into Chevron's role in abuses by the Nigerian security forces in a letter to the chair of the House International Relations Committee Ben Gilman. In the letter, Kucinich stated, "we believe that there is growing evidence that the U.S. oil companies are accepting extra-judicial killings and other human rights abuses as just another cost of doing business in Nigeria." The congressman was acting on information relating to the Opia and Ikenyan attacks, and an incident in May 1998 when Chevron had called for military intervention to remove 200 demonstrators from its offshore Parabe platform.80 No hearings on the role of U.S. multinationals have yet been announced, though the House of Representatives International Relations Committee Subcommittee on Africa may hold hearings on Nigeria generally.
79 U.N. Commission on Human Rights, Resolution 1999/11.
80 See Human Rights Watch, The Price of Oil, pp.148-151.
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