Nigeria's Jonathan set for victory in election

Sun Apr 17, 2011 4:08pm GMT

By Matthew Tostevin and Nick Tattersall

ABUJA (Reuters) - President Goodluck Jonathan took an unassailable lead on Sunday as votes were tallied from around Nigeria, despite a strong showing by rival Muhammadu Buhari in his mainly-Muslim strongholds.

Buhari, a former military ruler from the arid, dustblown north, was hoping to at least force a second round against Jonathan, the first head of state from the swamps and creeks of the oil-producing Niger Delta.

But that looked impossible with a Reuters tally of results from 30 of 36 states across Africa's most populous nation showing Jonathan on 20.3 million votes to 10.4 million for Buhari.

There were not enough registered voters in the remaining states for Buhari to make up the difference.

Observers called the election the fairest for decades in Nigeria, where rigged polls have been the norm. There were still suspicions of malpractice in some districts, though, and that could inflame tempers after the count.

Jonathan's officials said there would be no victory claim until results were announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission. They were clearly upbeat.

"This is no time for triumphalism. It is a time for deep reflection, for strengthening the bond of our union and for all of us to work together," Oronto Douglas, a senior advisor to Jonathan, told Reuters.

The president did particularly well in his predominantly Christian south, while Buhari swept many northern states in the country of 150 million people.   Continued...

<p>Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan waves to the crowd as he leaves a campaign rally in Kano, northern Nigeria, March 16, 2011. REUTERS/Joe Penney</p>
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