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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Goodluck Jonathan Fires Interior Minister

President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria suspended his interior minister on Tuesday after violent protests against his election victory killed at least six people in Africa’s biggest oil producer. Clashes between Christians and Muslims broke out for a second day in the northern city of Kaduna, Shehu Sani, head of the Civil Rights Congress.

Jonathan, 53, a Christian from the oil-rich Niger River delta region, defeated his nearest rival, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, a northern Muslim, in the Monday vote by a 57 percent to 31 percent margin according to the electoral commission. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with 150 million residents, is roughly split between a mostly Muslim north and a largely Christian south, a divide reflected in voting for the election. Soldiers have been patrolling the streets and cities are under curfew. in northern Nigeria.
Despite winning twice as many votes as his rival, Goodluck Jonathan faces a national emergency after supporters of losing presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari went on the rampage. Hundreds of people are feared dead as churches, mosques, homes and shops have been burnt. nearly 400 people had been wounded.On Tuesday, President Jonathan pleaded with political and religious leaders to condemn the violence.
However, religious divisions stirred during campaigning have come quickly to the fore. Nigeria's political class has repeatedly been accused of stirring religious conflict for local gain. The election winner has come to be known as the "accidental president" after inheriting power from Umara Yar'Adua who died last year following a long illness.
A southern Christian from the oil-producing Niger Delta, Jonathan's decision to stand for a new term in his own right violated an informal agreement in the ruling PDP party under which the presidency was rotated between candidates from the north and south.

The rioting in the north has not affected oil exports so far but a further round of elections - for the influential state governorships - this weekend could see unrest spread to the Niger Delta.
An armed rebellion in the Delta crippled oil production for two years and a subsequent amnesty paid off many of the rebel leaders without addressing the underlying issues behind the violence.

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