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New Chairman Takes Over Nigeria's Ruling Party

Nigeria's ruling party has inaugurated a new national chairman to lead the party into next year's presidential election. Former Enugu state governor Okwesilieze Nwodo took over leadership Thursday of the People's Democratic Party. He replaces Vincent Ogbulafor who resigned following corruption charges.

The People's Democratic Party has ruled Nigeria since the African nation returned to democracy a decade ago, after years of military dictatorship.

President Goodluck Jonathan has pledged to organize fair and free elections next year. He was sworn in as head of Africa's most populous nation last month, after the death of President Umaru Yar'Adua.

Last week, Nigeria's National Council of State endorsed Mr. Jonathan's nominee to head the national electoral commission.

The previous election three years ago marked the first successful transfer of power between two civilian administrations in Nigeria. Next April's national election is expected to be a closely contested race.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters and AP.