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Presidential and legislative election on new date

March 28, 2015 - NIGERIA

The presidential and National Assembly elections in Africa's most populous nation, postponed from February 14, are now scheduled for March 28, with officials still worrying that security forces fighting Boko Haram extremists will not be able to ensure voter safety.

In February, the government had been calling for weeks for the postponement, saying the electoral commission is not ready to hold what is described as the most tightly contested presidential vote in the history of Africa's biggest democracy.

President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the oil-producing south, is running against Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler and Muslim from the north of the country. Jonathan took office after his predecessor died midterm in 2010. According to the BBC, Buhari has ruled out negotiating with Boko Haram.

The ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) had a tradition of alternating presidential power between the mainly-Islamic north and the south until the pattern was broken with Jonathan's election in 2011, another grievance.

The PDP has won every national election since the end of military rule in 1999. Its power is slipping. Political divisions are growing apace with the religious and ethnic divisions. Internal tensions have already cost the PDP its majority in the House of Representatives of the bicameral National Assembly.

The ruling party has been hit by a wave of defections to the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) amid accusations of government corruption. The APC groups four opposition parties. Several state governors have also moved to the APC. In their election platforms, opposition parties are playing up the ruling party's inability to end incursions and kidnaps by Boko Haram.

State assembly and gubernatorial elections that were originally scheduled for February 28 will also be held on March 28.

Nigeria: War, denial and corruption (Foreign Policy 24 Feb 2014)

I\'m Covered By Immunity, Jonathan Tells Court (All Africa 17 Feb 2014)

Muhammadu Buhari to run against Goodluck Jonathan (Guardian 11 Dec 2014)

Nigeria elections: Buhari rules out Boko Haram talks (BBC 27 Feb 2015)

Date written/update: 2015-02-26