News / Africa

Nigerian President Calls for Calm Following Re-Election

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (C), accompanied by his running mate Arc Namadi Sambo, is congratulated by Cabinet members after being declared winner of the presidential election, in Abuja, on April 18, 2011
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (C), accompanied by his running mate Arc Namadi Sambo, is congratulated by Cabinet members after being declared winner of the presidential election, in Abuja, on April 18, 2011

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is calling for calm after days of electoral violence following a presidential vote that most observers believe was largely free and fair. But the political party that finished second says Jonathan's re-election was rigged.

President Jonathan says security forces are moving to repress violence in northern states where rioters burned the home of his vice president, threw stones at security forces and broke open a jail.

"I want to ensure all Nigerians that government will take all necessary measures to guarantee the security of the lives and property of all Nigerians," he said.

In a nationwide address, President Jonathan called on the patriotism of political and religious leaders to urge their supporters to refrain from acts of bitterness and violence, saying no one's political ambition is worth the blood of Nigerians.

"We are all winners. In this context, there is no victor and no vanquished," Jonathan said. "Nigerians have proved to the world that we are capable of holding free, fair, and credible elections."

Electoral Commission president Attahiru Jega says Jonathan won about 57 percent of the vote.

"Goodluck E. Jonathan of PDP, having certified the requirements of the law and scored the highest number of votes is hereby declared the winner and his return elected," Jega said.

Jega says former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari finished second with about 31 percent. The secretary general of Buhari's party, Buba Galadima, says the vote was rigged.

"There can never be a winner to this election until either the elections are repeated or all the ballot papers are subjected to forensic scrutiny before we accept whatever results that will come out of it," Galadima said. "And we are sure, more than sure, that if these ballot papers are subjected to forensic analysis, General Buhari will win 70 to 80 percent of the total votes of Nigerians."

Galadima said that President Jonathan's call on his opponents to help stop the violence wrongly implies that they are responsible for it.

"We have not instructed anybody to create violence or to cause violence," insisted Galadima. "Asking anybody to stop that means we are taking responsibility for what is happening."

Jonathan avoids a second-round runoff with Buhari because the president won at least one-quarter of the vote in at least 24 states.

That provision is meant to ensure that a Nigerian president has some degree of national support and is not simply a regional candidate. But the vote broke down along regional lines anyway with President Jonathan winning the south and Buhari winning the north.

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