Nigeria: For Once, Democracy Wins

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April 19, 2011: Dozens of violent riots have broken out in northern cities, as angry Moslems protest the failure to elect a Moslem president in the recent elections. The violence has been going on, and growing, for three days. Churches and mosques in the Moslem north have been burnt. More police and troops have been sent to the most violent areas. The government believes that it will be able to contain the unrest. For decades, there has been an unofficial agreement that Moslems and Christians would alternate as president. Many Moslems are angry that Goodluck Johnson, who took over when the previous Moslem president died in office, should now be president for a full term. Johnson has won a fair election, with many Moslems voting for him. But control of the presidency is worth a lot of money and power, and many Moslems are angry that they have not got the presidency back after Johnson's abbreviated rule as a Christian president.

Wikileaks documents indicate that American diplomats believed that most of the oil theft in the Niger Delta was done by, or with, gangs controlled by military or political leaders. This was seen as yet another example of government corruption, and many of the gangs that stole oil, also served as enforcers (especially during elections) of politicians and political parties.

April 18, 2011:  The Commonwealth Observer Group concluded that the April 15 elections were generally free and fair.

April 15, 2011: The People's Democratic Party (PDP), and its presidential candidate, incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan, won 57 percent of the vote. There were several Moslem candidates, but the most successful of them, Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), got only 31 percent of the vote.  Buhari supporters are behind most of the violence that broke out in reaction to the vote. The PDP has a long history of rigging votes, and Buhari supporters used this to justify their violence. But foreign observers declared this vote honest, and this is expected to eventually curb the violence. One reason Johnson got so many votes was because voters were aware that, for once, the government had made a real (and effective) effort to curb the vote rigging that had been so common in the past. Today's vote was supposed to take place earlier this month, but was halted when it was clear that there was too much rigging, and outright incompetence, for a fair vote. Thus the delay, and successful elimination of most of the rigging. About 73.5 million Nigerians were registered to vote for the president, as well as 109 senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives

Another terrorist bomb, directed at disrupting the vote, went off in the northern city of Maiduguri. Police went after groups seeking to disrupt the election, arresting hundreds, and scaring off thousands of the usual election "enforcer" thugs.  But there have been several bombings throughout the country.

April 14, 2011: A terrorist bomb, directed at disrupting the vote, went off in the northern city of Maiduguri.

April 9, 2011:  In the north, a man was killed when the bomb he was carrying went off prematurely. The victim was believed to be the bomb builder responsible for constructing several bombs used to attack rival political party campaigns.

April 8, 2011: A bomb went off in Central Nigeria, killing about twenty people preparing for the national vote.

 

 

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