Nigerian ruling party loses ground in poll

Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:46pm GMT

By Matthew Tostevin and Camillus Eboh

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's ruling party looked set to see its parliamentary majority weaken as results trickled in on Sunday from an election Africa's most populous nation hopes will be its first credible vote in almost two decades.

Election officials and party agents tallied results from 120,000 polling units stretching from the oil-producing mangrove swamps and teeming cities near the southern coast to the dustblown fringes of the Sahara desert in the north.

There were isolated reports of ballot box snatching, clashes between rival supporters in parts of the Niger Delta and two bombs in the remote northeast during the vote but observers said it appeared to have been a vast improvement on previous polls.

"I think it is fair to say this was a real election. It was a real vote," Kenneth Wollack, president of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) which was among foreign groups monitoring the polls, told Reuters.

President Goodluck Jonathan's ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) is expected to see its parliamentary majority weaken, coming under strong pressure from the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the southwest and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in parts of the north.

"The ACN is leading in the Senatorial and House of Representatives race in most states in the southwest," said Chinedu Michael, an observer from the Nigerian Committee on the Defence of Human Rights in the commercial capital Lagos.

Media in the southwestern state of Ogun said the speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole of the PDP, lost his seat, while the daughter of former president and PDP stalwart Olusegun Obasanjo lost her bid to remain in the Senate.

At a collation centre in Karo on the outskirts of Abuja, it was clear the CPC was edging out the PDP across most wards being collated there as officials called out numbers above the hum of generators.   Continued...

<p>A Nigerian police officer watches over ballot boxes in Ikoyi, Lagos, April 9, 2011. Africa's most populous nation voted in a delayed parliamentary election on Saturday, determined to hold a credible poll despite chaotic organization and violence. REUTERS/Nick Tattersall (NIGERIA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)</p>
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