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Cablegate: Buhari and Anpp Hold Major Rally in Kano

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

261300Z Sep 03

UNCLAS ABUJA 001670

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV NI KDEM
SUBJECT: BUHARI AND ANPP HOLD MAJOR RALLY IN KANO


1. Thousands of ANPP supporters converged on Kano September
23 to attend a rally for
its Presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari. ANPP Chairman
Don Etiebet, Vice
Presidential candidate Chuba Okadigbo and Kano State Governor
Ibrahim Shekarau were
in attendance along with dozens of ANPP candidates from
throughout the country.


2. Crowds began arriving at 0800 and by 1000 Kano was "shut
down" according to
BBC's Hausa radio service. Eyewitness estimates of the crowd
range from "hundreds of
thousands" to "two million." One told Poloff that it
reminded him of Washington's
"Million Man March" and another commented that it was
"reminiscent of Buhari's
campaign rallies" held throughout the country in the run up
to the April elections. The
Buhari motorcade, arriving from his home in Daura, was held
up for two hours by the
masses lining the streets. Inside the stadium, the situation
was worse, with the crowd
pressing to get close to their candidate.


3. The rally held in spite of a statement from police
officials that the rally was "illegal
and unauthorized." Governor Shekarau overruled the police
order and urged everyone to
attend and ensure that the rally was peaceful. The only
security incidents during the rally
came when the crowd surged, sometimes trapping people in the
masses. Okadigbo
apparently fainted at one point and had to be carried away.
Others commented that they
had been "in fear for their lives" when the urge of the crowd
threatened to trample them.
Police evidently used teargas at the stadium to try to
disperse the crowd. One eyewitness
commented that he had only seen similar crowd conditions in
Mecca during the Hajj.


4. BBC and VOA Hausa services reported the rally was
peaceful and had halted business
throughout the city. This is the first public mass
opposition political gathering since the
Obasanjo government issued a ban on rallies before the April
19 Presidential elections.


5. COMMENT: Buhari had been maintaining a low profile while
waiting for his suit
calling for new elections to make its way through the
judicial process. He remains
worried that overzealous supporters could heat up the polity
and the ensuing
disenchantment with the performance of the Obasanjo
government could result in
violence, an outcome he has said he wants to avoid. Buhari
likely plans to stage more
rallies in the future but will continue to carefully choose
the venues in order to maintain
control as long as the election tribunal case (septel) is
pending.
MEECE

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