Niger Delta rebels promised on Tuesday to halt attacks on the oil industry if the Nigerian government would allow former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to act as a mediator.
The rebel Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), whose campaign of violence helped lift oil prices to a new record on Tuesday, said Carter had accepted its offer to mediate in the conflict “on the condition that the Nigerian government and any other relevant stake holder invites him.”
But the Carter Center, which speaks on behalf of the former president, said it was “premature” to say that Carter had accepted an invitation to mediate.
“The Carter Center’s correspondence with MEND emphasized that President Carter would seriously consider undertaking a mission if he were formally invited by all relevant stakeholders in the Niger Delta conflict,” said a statement by the center, which is based in Atlanta.
“In addition to MEND, this would include the Federal Government of Nigeria and others whose interests would have to be represented in such a negotiation,” it said.
MEND’s campaign of violence has cut output in Africa’s largest oil producer by around a fifth. It publicly approached Carter earlier this year to act as a negotiator.
“We are ready to call off all hostilities and hold a temporary cease-fire in honor of President Carter should the Nigerian government accept President Carter’s initiative,” MEND said in an e-mailed statement.
“However, if as expected, the government fails to seize on this new opportunity for peace, our actions will continue to speak volumes beyond the Nigerian shores.”