North-South Divide in Nigeria's Presidential Election

Published on Sunday 17th April 2011

Early results from Nigeria's presidential election show sharp divides between the mainly Muslim north and mostly Christian south.Results from Saturday's presidential election appear to be split between incumbent Goodluck Jonathan and former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.President Jonathan - a Christian from the oil-producing Niger Delta - was the clear front-runner among several candidates going into the race. Buhari is from the Muslim north. He has lost two previous runs for president.Election-related violence flared late Saturday after observers said voting mostly proceeded calmly, with few instances of cheating.Police said a bomb detonated late Saturday at a hotel in northern Nigeria, wounding eight people. Details of the explosion remain unclear. The bomb went off in Kaduna, the home state of Vice President Namadi Sambo.Other incidents of violence were reported in the north, where police say at least one official's house was burned and several riots broke out.Security was tight at polling stations across the West African nation, which has a history of rigged voting and election violence. There were two explosions in the northeastern city Maiduguri early Saturday.Observers say voters turned out in large numbers for the election in Africa's most populous country.  President Jonathan has promised to improve the country's economy, health and education. Jonathan assumed the presidency last year following the death of his predecessor, Umaru Yar'Adua. Buhari said he would not contest the results of the election, should he lose. If elected, he has vowed to clean up corruption and invest in Nigeria's infrastructure. To avoid a runoff, a candidate must get a majority of votes nationwide, and at least a quarter of the votes in at least two-thirds of Nigeria's 36 states.


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