Nigerian Opposition Candidate Disputes Vote, Urges Calm

Published on Wednesday 20th April 2011

Defeated Nigerian presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari is continuing to dispute the validity of the vote, while urging calm following deadly riots in the north.Buhari told VOA's Hausa service Wednesday there were no elections in the country's Niger Delta region and the southeast, and that his supporters were not allowed to vote.  But he called on people to remain calm and to obey the law, saying the irregularities are being pursued with the electoral commission.Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan won re-election in Monday's vote, which was deemed largely free and fair by independent observers.Riots broke out in the predominantly Muslim north after news that Jonathan, a Christian, had defeated his Muslim rival, Mr. Buhari.Witnesses reported seeing charred bodies on roadways, and homes and churches burned to the ground.Media reports say up to 50 people may have died in the violence, though government officials and aid agencies declined to release casualty figures for fear they would prompt a wave of reprisal attacks.  None of Nigeria's opposition parties signed on to the final election results and Mr. Buhari's party has filed a formal challenge. Officials say Jonathan received more than 22 million (22,495,187) votes in Saturday's polls, nearly twice the number of Buhari, who garnered about 12 million (2,214,853) votes.Jonathan won enough support to avoid a run-off, taking 57 percent of the votes cast.  Nigeria's population of 140 million - the largest in Africa - is split roughly evenly between Muslims and Christians.  Most Muslims live in northern Nigeria, while most Christians live in the south.


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