Thursday, May 5, 2011

Obama calls Nigeria's President Jonathan, laments violence

US President Barack Obama said Wednesday he called Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, congratulating him on his election victory while denouncing post-election violence in Africa's most populous nation.

Obama said in a statement he commended the people of Nigeria "for their resolve and patience during last month's historic presidential, legislative and gubernatorial elections."

Jonathan, a southern Christian, defeated ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim from the north, in the April 16 vote that led to an explosion of rioting in Nigeria.
Obama said that "the success of the elections was a testament to Nigerian voters who waited in long lines, stayed to watch their votes counted and were determined that these elections mark a new chapter in Nigerian history."

The US leader said Nigerian authorities should "investigate and address any allegations of fraud or irregularities."

Obama's comments echoed those of a US diplomat last week who said Nigeria's elections bode well for the future of democracy in that country and send a strong signal that other African states can hold successful polls.

"While the majority of Nigerians cast their ballots free from intimidation and coercion, the post-election violence that followed the presidential election on April 16 was deplorable," Obama stated.

"Violence has no place in a democratic society, and it is the responsibility of all Nigerians to reject it. Democracy, however, neither begins nor ends with elections. Now is the time for Nigeria's leaders and its people to come together and build the future that they deserve -- a multi-party democracy that addresses the aspirations of all Nigerians.

"As Africa's most populous country, Nigeria can show what is possible when people of different parties, ethnicities and faith backgrounds come together to seek peace, provide for their families, and give their children a better future. Today, Nigerians have an historic opportunity to move forward together and make their nation into a model for Africa."

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