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Group of Nigeria Ruling Party MPs Join Opposition

Goodluck Jonathan, president of Nigeria, in Nairobi, Kenya, Dec. 12, 2013.
Goodluck Jonathan, president of Nigeria, in Nairobi, Kenya, Dec. 12, 2013.
Thirty-seven ruling party members in Nigeria's parliament have announced they are defecting to an opposition party, the latest in a series of political blows to President Goodluck Jonathan.

On Wednesday, the People's Democratic Party (PDP) members announced their move to the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC). Their action gives the APC a slim majority in the lower house, which has been controlled by the PDP since 1999. However, the PDP still controls the upper chamber.

In a letter to Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, the defecting PDP members said "divisions and factions" have prompted their move to the opposition.

These defections are the latest setback for Jonathan, who is widely expected to seek re-election in 2015.

Earlier this month, several news organizations published excerpts of a letter from former President Olusegun Obasanjo, urging Jonathan not to seek re-election. In the letter, Obasanjo criticized Jonathan's leadership and said he had allowed large-scale corruption in Nigeria.

In November, five powerful state governors who had left the PDP announced they had joined the APC party.

Jonathan initially came to power in 2010, following the death of President Umaru Yar'Adua, after three years in office. He was elected to his first full term the following year, in an election marred by violence and vote-rigging allegations.