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News Briefs I

Nigerian President-Elect Vows to Work for Democracy

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- Abuja, Nigeria

Despite reports of election fraud, Nigeria’s newly elected president proclaimed Monday that he will build democracy after years of disastrous military rule.

Olusegun Obasanjo, a 61-year-old retired general, was officially declared the winner of Saturday’s balloting. The Independent National Electoral Commission said he captured 63 percent of the vote to defeat rival Olu Falae and become Nigeria’s first civilian president in 15 years.

Obasanjo ran Nigeria from 1976 to 1979 before voluntarily handing over power to civilian rule.

Surrounded by well-wishers in a hotel room in Abuja, the capital, Obasanjo pledged to nurture democracy.

“Election is not the end of democracy,” Obasanjo said. “Election is just one important event in the process, and democracy under my own leadership will continue.”

Reform Candidates Winning Big in Iran


Reformers allied with moderate President Mohammed Khatemi have won a convincing victory in Iranian municipal elections, according to preliminary results made public Monday. Analysts say the outcome should strengthen the country’s budding movement toward democracy and assist the president’s struggle against conservative clerics.

Newspapers here reported that with 20 million of an estimated 25 million votes counted from Friday’s balloting, Khatemi’s supporters appear to have won most council seats in cities and villages throughout the country. In Tehran, an important barometer because of its size and political clout, allies of the president were expected to win as many as 12 of 15 local seats.

One apparent winner in the city was Abdollah Nouri, a liberal cleric who was stripped of a Cabinet position last year in a battle with conservatives. Others headed for election included two presidential advisers, the sister of a newspaper editor who was jailed last year by conservative press critics and Mohammed Ibrahim Zawday, a leader of the Iranian students who occupied the U.S. Embassy in 1979 but who is now allied with Iran’s reform movement.

Senate Majority Leader Criticizes International Olympic Committee


Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell Monday criticized the International Olympic Committee for a lack of openness and ethical control and accused the organization of tolerating a culture of gift-giving that is ``potentially illegal and inevitably corrupt'' in the third major report on the Salt Lake City Olympic scandal.

Urging reform at all levels of the Olympic movement, a five-member ethics panel led by Mitchell and appointed by the U.S. Olympic Committee recommended sweeping changes to IOC operations and governance and took aim at what it called a ``flourishing'' culture of impropriety.

``The credibility of the Olympic movement has been gravely damaged and reform must occur,'' Mitchell said.

The release of the Mitchell report issued under the auspices of the world's most influential national Olympic committee comes at a crucial juncture for the embattled IOC, which has suspended five members and accepted the resignations of four more tied to the scandal.