News / Africa

Nigerian Governor Re-Elected as Pressure on President Grows

The incumbent governor-elect of Anambra State Peter Obi speaks on the result of gubernatorial election held in the state on 7 Feb 2010. The Anambra State gubernatorial election which is a prelude to next year's general elections was marred by irregulariti
The incumbent governor-elect of Anambra State Peter Obi speaks on the result of gubernatorial election held in the state on 7 Feb 2010. The Anambra State gubernatorial election which is a prelude to next year's general elections was marred by irregulariti

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The governor of Nigeria's Anambra state has been re-elected in a contest marred by incomplete voter lists. This vote was closely watched across Nigeria because it is one of a series of state and federal elections leading up to planned presidential elections next year. Governors want Nigeria's vice president named acting leader in the interim because the elected president has been out of the country for medical treatment for more than 10 weeks.

Anambra state Governor Peter Obi was re-elected in a contest with so many reported irregularities that the governor himself initially refused to vote because he said thousands of his supporters were unable to cast their ballots when their names did not appear on local electoral lists.

Despite the incomplete lists and long delays at several polling stations, chief electoral officer Josiah Uwazuronye Sunday declared the governor re-elected.

"Peter Obi of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, having satisfied the requirements of the law and scored the highest number of votes, is hereby declared the winner and his return elected," said Uwazuronye.

With more than 23,000 security forces deployed in Anambra for the vote, there were no reports of major unrest in the southeast state that saw considerable post-electoral violence in 2007.

Information Minister Dora Akunyili told the local AIT television station that the vote shows the need for electoral reform.

"Election materials did not come to most places before 10:30, 11:00. I believe that is manageable, but I noticed there were other hiccups. But by and large, I believe that this election is better than what we had in 2007. But still we expect better," said Akunyili.

This vote was closely watched across Nigeria as it is the first in a cycle of state and federal contests meant to culminate with presidential elections in April 2011.

Former Commonwealth Secretary General Emeka Anyaouku told reporters in Lagos that the Anambra vote will shape the direction elections take next year, as he says the country is at a crossroads where its affairs are not as bright as they should be.

That is partly because of Nigeria's mounting constitutional crisis over the prolonged absence of President Umaru Yar'Adua, who has not been seen since late November when he left for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.

In the coming week, Nigeria's powerful state governors say they will ask parliament to officially make Vice President Goodluck Jonathan the country's acting leader because, they say, that is in the best interest of the nation.

The ruling party says only President Yar'Adua can pass on that authority by officially notifying lawmakers of his absence. And that, the president's supporters say, is a decision that is entirely at the discretion of Mr. Yar'Adua.

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