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September 07, 2010

Nigerian President Says He Will Run in Upcoming Election

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has told leaders in the ruling People's Democratic Party he will seek the party's nomination in the upcoming presidential election.

Nigerian media report Mr. Jonathan declared his intention Tuesday night at a closed-door meeting of state governors.  Mr. Jonathan told the governors he plans to make a public announcement on September 18.

Sources from the meeting said no one raised a protest about the president's disclosure.  However, not all governors from the ruling party attended the meeting, which comes near the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Mr. Jonathan's possible candidacy is controversial.  A Christian from Nigeria's south, he took office in May after the death of President Umaru Yar'Adua, who was a Muslim from the north.

Some members of the PDP have argued Mr. Jonathan should step aside to allow another Muslim to hold the highest office.

Mr. Yar'Adua died about three years into what was expected to be a two-term, eight-year presidency.

The party has an informal rule of rotating the presidency between Nigeria's mainly Muslim north and mainly Christian south after two terms.

Former military ruler Ibrahim Babangida and former vice president Atiku Abubakar - both Muslims - have said they will seek the ruling party's nomination.

This week Nigeria's electoral commission set January 22 as the date for the presidential election, with voting for parliament on January 15, and state governor polls on January 29.