Nigeria: Meet the New Dictator

Nigeria is teetering close to the brink of social explosion following the death of dictator General Sani Abacha. "It'll take at least a week for the dust to settle, but the anti-dictatorship groups may not wait that long," says TIME reporter Clive Mutiso. Civilian politicians are pressing the military to hand over power to Moshood Abiola, the democratically elected leader kept out of power by Abacha in 1993. "That's an option the military rulers won't stand for," says Mutiso.

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Nigeria is teetering close to the brink of social explosion following the death of dictator General Sani Abacha. "It'll take at least a week for the dust to settle, but the anti-dictatorship groups may not wait that long," says TIME reporter Clive Mutiso. Civilian politicians are pressing the military to hand over power to Moshood Abiola, the democratically elected leader kept out of power by Abacha in 1993. "That's an option the military rulers won't stand for," says Mutiso.

The question is how far the civilian opposition will take their campaign. Even in the week before Abacha died, at least 20 people were killed in violent protests in Lagos. But Mutiso warns against Indonesia comparisons: "When it comes to crushing skulls, Nigeria's leaders have shown they're not particularly concerned about international opinion."

The military junta today installed General Abdusalam Abubakar to lead the oil-rich country. Abacha had planned a return to "civilian rule" through elections on August 1, but the catch was that the general was the only candidate. Abubakar has given no indication of his plans regarding the election, but whether or not it proceeds, Africa's most populous nation looks set for a long, hot summer.