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Wednesday, September 29, 2004
US to Nigeria: Must keep peace in Niger Delta
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US to Nigeria: Must keep peace in Niger Delta


The U.S. State Department Tuesday said Nigeria must keep the peace in the Niger Delta where rebels have given foreign oil workers three days to leave. "We've made clear to the Nigerian authorities they have a responsibility to keep the peace in that area for the sake of the people as well as for the safety of American citizens and property," department spokesman Richard Boucher said. He also noted the region is "among the poorest in the country." "And so those problems are things that we recognize, and we have tried to work with American companies, with the Nigerian authorities, to try to rectify, try to help the people of that area," he said.

Earlier Tuesday, Dokubo Asari, leader of the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force, told the BBC his group would not take responsibility for any harm that befalls a foreigner and threatened to escalate violence against the government. The militia says it is fighting for the liberation of the Ijaw people and wants the issues of resource control and self-determination resolved. The threats contributed to oil prices surpassing $50 per barrel overnight Monday.

Nigeria is the world's seventh largest exporter of oil, but 70 percent of its population lives in poverty.

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