From the Washington Post:
ABUJA, Nigeria — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday urged oil-rich Nigeria to embrace broad political reform and ease tensions that have led to sectarian violence and disrupted energy production in the Niger Delta.
In the Nigerian capital of Abuja on the fifth stop in a seven-nation tour Africa, Clinton said that action on those fronts was needed to protect the country’s status as the continent’s largest oil producer and largest recipient of direct U.S. investment.
“It is critical for the people of Nigeria, first and foremost, but indeed for the United States that Nigeria succeeds in fulfilling its promise,” Clinton told a news conference after meeting Nigerian Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe.
“We strongly support and encourage the government of Nigeria’s efforts to increase transparency, reduce corruption (and) provide support for democratic processes in preparation for the 2011 elections,” she said.
U.S. officials regard Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, as a bellwether for the continent’s success and have expressed deep concern about the coup-prone country’s political situation, especially after 2007 elections that were marred by fraud.
Maduekwe said there was a “national consensus on issues of enhanced democracy, a deep commitment to rule of law and electoral reforms” and pledged that President Umaru Yar’Adua’s government would deliver on reform.
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