Nigerian leader reaches out to opponents

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan casts his vote into a ballot box in Otuoke, his country home ward at Ogbia district in Bayelsa State, on April 16, 2011. He reached out to his opponents on Monday in a victory statement after winning elections and said the country had proved itself capable of holding fair polls. AFP

ABUJA

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan reached out to his opponents on Monday in a victory statement after winning elections and said the country had proved itself capable of holding fair polls.

"Nigerians have proved to the world that we are capable of holding free, fair and credible elections," Jonathan said in the statement.

He also said: "I congratulate the candidates of the other political parties. I regard them not as opponents, but as partners."

Jonathan mentioned by name the other main candidates in the race, including second-place finisher Muhammadu Buhari, saying he wanted to pay tribute to them.

The election results exposed deep regional divisions in Africa's most populous nation, with Jonathan scoring particularly well in his native south and Buhari winning states in the north.

Deadly riots broke out in the north when results began to be announced.

Nigeria's 150 million population is roughly split between Christians and Muslims. The south is predominately Christian and the north mainly Muslim.

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