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Buhari 'leading' in Nigeria elections

March 31, 2015

Nigeria's former military dictator and main contender Muhammadu Buhari is reported to be leading against President Goodluck Jonathan. The count from the weekend's election is still underway.

Mohammadu Buhari
Image: Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images

Opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari built up a lead of over two million votes against President Goodluck Jonathan, who won 10.2 million votes in 30 states where votes had been counted, news agency Reuters reported.

72-year-old Buhari, Nigeria's former military dictator, had clinched 12.5 million votes on Tuesday, news agencies reported. However, the margin was still too slender and Jonathan had a chance of winning if he managed to sweep votes in the six states where counting was ongoing. Many of these were the president's strongholds.

Voters were divided over President Goodluck Jonathan's ineffective handling of the Boko Haram insurgency in the country's northeast and his contender Buhari's promises of getting rid of corruption in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country.

Suspicion over results

Jonathan won over 95 percent of the votes in Rivers state, the home of Nigeria's oil and gas industry. But the results raised suspicion, with supporters of Buhari's All Progressives Congress (APC) taking to the streets to protest. Authorities declared a curfew in the area, and the US and Britain released statements saying they were "very concerned" about the attempts to undermine the independence of Nigeria's people, the Associated Press reported.

Wahl Nigeria Abuja
Card reader malfunctions forced the authorities to extend the elections into SundayImage: DW/Uwaisu A. Idris

"So far we have seen no evidence of systemic manipulation of the process. But there are disturbing indications that the collation process- where the votes are finally counted- may be subject to political interference," US Secretary of State John Kerry and Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in a joint statement.

Jonathan termed the suggestions "absolute balderdash," saying he would challenge Kerry to "provide the evidence" for rigging in this year's elections.

Elections marred by violence, technical glitches

Authorities had also been concerned about polling being disrupted in the country's northeast after Boko Haram militants attacked some towns on Saturday.

In this year's elections, technical glitches hindered the voting process. New biometric cards aimed at reducing fraud were introduced, but some card readers did not work properly, forcing authorities to extend the election for a day.

50 people were killed during the ballot, the Associated Press quoted Nigeria's National Human Rights Commission as saying. The elections, however, showed "a maturing political system," commission chairman Chidi Onikalu said. More than 1,000 people died in Nigeria's Muslim-majority north, when Buhari lost to Jonathan in the 2011 elections.

mg/lw (Reuters, AP)