Former US President Jimmy Carter "ready to mediate on Niger Delta"

Jimmy CarterAbuja - The militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said Tuesday that former US President Jimmy Carter had indicated willingness to mediate in the region's crisis.

It said it received the confirmation Tuesday from The Carter Center through its Vice-President, John Stremlau.

The crisis in the Niger Delta, where militant groups have been kidnapping expatriate oil workers and destroying oil production facilities, has led to the production loss of more than one million barrels of crude oil daily from the 2.1 million barrels that Nigeria had been producing.

MEND, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger delta, has claimed responsibility for much of the destruction and kidnapping. Its leader, Henry Okah, is on treason trial by a Nigerian court.

A MEND statement said Carter "has graciously accepted to mediate in the Niger Delta crisis on the condition that the Nigerian government and any other relevant stakeholder invites him."

Carter, it said, "represents transparency, impartiality, humility and integrity; four key ingredients critical in the mediator recipe towards ensuring a genuine and enduring peace process for the region."

It said Nigerian government acceptance of President Carter to mediate and also visit Henry Okah would demonstrate its seriousness to embrace genuine peace and reconciliation.

Militant groups in the Niger Delta claim they became kidnappers and destroyers to get the Nigerian government to allow people of the region to have a greater say in the exploitation of its oil and gas.

Nigeria depends on oil exports from the largely impoverished Niger Delta region for more than 90 per cent of its total annual income. (dpa)

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