An influential political group in northern Nigeria has called on all parties to field northern candidates in next year's presidential election - a move that would exclude current President Goodluck Jonathan.

The Arewa Consultative Forum said Tuesday that political parties must choose candidates from the north to ensure Nigeria's "federal character" is maintained, and in the interest of "social justice, equity, fairness and stability."

Nigeria's dominant People's Democratic Party usually alternates the presidency between the mainly Islamic north and mainly Christian south.

The 2007 election was won by a northern Muslim, Umaru Yar'Adua.  But he died earlier this year and Mr. Jonathan, a southern Christian, became president.

President Jonathan has not said whether he will run for a full term.

Many northerners oppose nominating Mr. Jonathan in 2011.  At the meeting of the Arewa Consultative Forum Tuesday, Alhaji Nastura Shariff, a youth leader, said northerners must not accept any attempt to "shut the door of the presidency, just when it is our turn."

A group of youths protested outside the meeting and accused the group of preparing to endorse Mr. Jonathan for 2011.