U.S. President Barack Obama has phoned Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to congratulate him on his election victory, while also deploring post-election violence.
In a statement Wednesday, Mr. Obama said he commended the Nigerian people for their resolve and patience during last month’s presidential, legislative and gubernatorial elections.
He said the success of the elections was a testament to Nigerians who were determined that the polls mark a new chapter in Nigerian history.
Mr. Obama said while the majority of Nigerians cast their ballots free from intimidation and coercion, the post-election violence that followed the presidential vote on April 16 has no place in a democratic society.
Riots broke out after President Jonathan, a Christian from southern Nigeria, defeated his northern Muslim rival Muhammadu Buhari. A Nigerian rights group says at least 500 people were killed in Muslim-Christian fighting.
Nigeria’s population of 140 million is split roughly evenly between Muslims and Christians. The country has suffered periodic bouts of Muslim-Christian violence, much of it taking place in the central city of Jos.
The top U.S. diplomat for Africa, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnny Carson, last month hailed the multistage electoral process as Nigeria’s most successful polls since the end of military rule in 1999. He said the elections, while imperfect, will provide a baseline for further election improvements. voa