Sunday, 29 May 2011

Goodluck Jonathan Seeks to Ease Nigerian Tensions as He Starts Second Term

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan took the oath of office today for his first full four-year term to lead Africa’s top oil-producing country following his victory in elections held in April.
Chief Justice Ignatius Katsina-Alu administered the oath that was watched by more than a dozen African leaders including South African President Jacob Zuma. Jonathan promised to defend Nigeria’s constitution and work for progress.
“My urgent task is to create a suitable environment for productive activities to flourish,” he said. “The Nigeria of our dreams must be built on hard work and not shortcuts.”
Jonathan, 53, a Christian from the oil-rich Niger River delta region, defeated his nearest rival, Muhammadu Buhari, a northern Muslim, in the April 16 vote by a 57 percent to 31 percent margin, the electoral commission said. He had succeeded Muslim northerner, Umaru Yar’Adua, who died in May last year and defied a party rule that made it the north’s turn to produce a presidential candidate.
At least 800 people were killed as protests by supporters of the opposition candidate, a former military ruler, triggered violence between Muslim and Christian ethnic groups, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with 150 million residents, is roughly split between a mostly Muslim north and a largely Christian south, a divide reflected in the election results. Jonathan won overwhelmingly in the country’s mainly Christian center and south, while Buhari won in the predominantly Muslim areas of the north.
International and local election monitors described the elections as Nigeria’s fairest in decades.

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