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Yar’Adua death leaves succession wide open

NIGERIA-PRESIDENT/The death of Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua is unlikely to plunge Africa’s most populous state into crisis, but it intensifies what was already shaping up to be the fiercest succession race since the end of military rule.

Yar’Adua has been absent from the political scene since last November, when he left for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, and his deputy Goodluck Jonathan has been running the country since February and has since consolidated his position.

Yar’Adua’s death now piles pressure on the powerbrokers in the ruling People’s Democratic Party to resolve the impasse over who should succeed him.

According to the party’s constitution, power should rotate between Nigeria’s geographical zones, and there is an unwritten agreement that the presidency should alternate between the Muslim north and Christian south every two terms.

What chance for democracy in Nigeria?

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Can Nigeria, the so-called “giant of Africa”, live up to its claim of being the biggest democracy in the black world? Not if its latest state governorship election is anything to go by, argue some in Africa’s most populous nation.

The re-run of elections for the post of governor in southwest Ekiti state were seen as a test of whether Nigeria’s electoral system has improved since flawed federal and state polls in 2007.

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