Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Nigeria: Jonathan's win marred by deadly riots

Rioting in northern Nigeria has prompted thousands of people to flee their homes and seek refuge elsewhere. In the town of Kano, Christian youths burned a mosque, after deadly riots that followed the election of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan . The Muslims retaliated by destroying local shops and causing havoc on the streets.

The riots broke out across 14 northern cities, leaving hundreds of people injured. The number of dead has not yet been disclosed. An estimated 15,000 people have been displaced by the riots that began over the weekend with people claiming rigging in the presidential elections.

Nigeria Red Cross disaster management co-ordinator Umar Abdul Mairiga said: "Things are relatively calm right now, but violent protests went on last night, especially in Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara (states)…Our volunteers are out there and we expect details in the coming hour or so. What may come out of there is not very palatable because many people were killed, especially in southern Kaduna…The displaced people are getting hostile because nothing is coming up in terms of relief."

For his part, Jonathan has called for calm in the country. In a televised address to the nation, he urged all Nigerians to, "quickly move away from partisan battlegrounds and find a national common ground", adding: "Nobody's political ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian."

Religious tensions in Nigeria have been a source of strife for a number of years, however, in this instance the conflict came to the fore over election results showing Jonathan's overwhelming lead by more than 10 million votes over Muslim candidate Muhammadu Buhari.

Election chairman Attahiru Jega announced the result on Monday 18th April, revealing that Jonathan had won 22.4 million votes, compared to the 12.2 million of his main opponent, former military ruler Buhari.

Sources: BBC, AFP, AP, Bloomberg

For more news and expert analysis about Nigeria, please see Nigeria Focus and Nigeria Politics & Security.

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