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Kerry to Visit Nigeria, Meet Presidential Candidates

FILE - Muhammadu Buhari, former military ruler and presidential aspirant, center.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is going to Nigeria to meet with the country's two leading presidential candidates and to urge that next month's elections are free and fair.

The State Department said Friday that Kerry will travel to Nigeria's largest city, Lagos, on Sunday, and will emphasize the importance of ensuring the elections are peaceful and credible.

The secretary will meet with incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and main opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari.

Past elections in Nigeria have been marred by violence. President Jonathan's disputed victory in the 2011 election triggered violence in the north that killed an estimated 800 people

This year's elections are complicated by the rise of militant group Boko Haram, which has killed thousands of people in the northeast and controls much of Borno state.

Nigerian officials have said the February 14 presidential and parliamentary elections will go ahead as scheduled.

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