Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has formally launched his campaign to run in January’s presidential elections.

Mr. Jonathan made the formal announcement Saturday before a crowd of cheering supporters in Nigeria’s main city, Abuja. On Wednesday, the president used the social networking site Facebook to initially announce his candidacy.

It is not without controversy. The ruling People’s Democratic Party is divided over whether the party should run a Christian, like Mr. Jonathan, or a Muslim. The party has a custom of rotating the presidency between a northern Muslim and a southern Christian every two terms.

Mr. Jonathan’s predecessor, Umaru Yar’Adua, was a Muslim. He died in May, just three years into what was expected to be an eight-year presidency.

The president faces challenges for the nomination from at least two Muslim rivals — Nigeria’s former military ruler Ibrahim Babangida and a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar.

The ruling PDP will hold primary elections next month to select its presidential nominee.

The party announced Thursday that the polls will take place for three days across the country beginning October 18. It said a single candidate will be ratified on October 23.

Nigeria is due to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in January. voa

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