Nigeria's military dictator voided the June 12 presidential elections Wednesday, again blocking the country's return to civilian rule.
A military decree signed by the ruler, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, said "these steps were taken to save our judiciary from being ridiculed and politicized locally and internationally."The results of the elections, which apparently were won by business tycoon Moshood K.O. Abiola, had been ordered suppressed by the Abuja High Court on June 15 after supporters of Babangida claimed they were rigged.
Wednesday's ruling did not say whether new elections would be held.
Babangida had promised to end the military's decadelong grip on power on Aug. 27, but he was widely suspected of planning to derail the transition to civilian rule.
Babangida has ruled since 1985, when he toppled another military regime. Nigeria, with 88.5 million people, is Africa's most populous county and has been under military governments for 23 of its 33 years of independence from Britain.
The elections were widely criticized because Abiola and his rival, Bashir Othman Tofa, another wealthy industrialist, were close friends of the general, who created their political parties.