Britain praises 'significant step forward' in Nigeria

19th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Monday hailed Goodluck Jonathan's victory in Nigeria's presidential elections as a "significant step forward" for the west African nation.

The British politician condemned unrest that marred the vote but said it was "to the credit of the Nigerian people that they voted in spite of the violence."

The election was a "significant step forward, not just for Nigeria but also for democracy throughout Africa," Hague said in a statement.

"I welcome that this election appears to be the most credible since the end of military rule in 1999.

"I congratulate the people of Nigeria for exercising their democratic duties and I congratulate President Goodluck Jonathan on his election," the foreign minister added.

Jonathan, the incumbent and first president from the southern oil-producing Niger Delta region, won 57 percent of the vote in Africa's most populous nation, easily beating his northern rival, ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.

Final results gave Jonathan 22.5 million votes, while Buhari scored 12.2 million votes for 31 percent.

Observers also called the vote a major step forward for a nation with a history of violent and deeply flawed elections, but problems remained and the opposition rejected the results over allegations of rigging.

Hague said it was "clear that deficiencies in the process... will need addressing" but that it "looked forward to working closely with President Jonathan."

© 2011 AFP

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