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MEND extends hand to Nigerian gov't

Sept. 10, 2013 at 8:18 AM

ABUJA, Nigeria, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said it was ready to thwart oil sabotage in the region if the government listens to its position.

MEND in April said it was launching a new campaign this year. The group wants Niger Delta communities to have more influence in the regional oil sector. It ramped up its militancy in the Niger Delta after leader Henry Okah in March was sentenced in South Africa to 24 years in prison on terrorism-related charges

The Nigerian government blamed saboteurs and vandals for the loss of about 150,000 barrels of oil per day. MEND issued a statement Monday saying it would move to the government's side under certain conditions.

"The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta is ready to end activities of illegitimate oil merchants, pipeline vandalization and the unrest in the Niger Delta region when the reason we took up arms is addressed by a listening administration," the movement was quoted by the Platts news service as saying.

The government blamed instability in the Niger Delta for its failure to meet a 2013 production target of 2.53 million barrels of oil per day. It said last weekend production was 2.29 million bpd during the second quarter of the year.

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