Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan vows to hold clean elections
Nigeria's acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, met with President Obama on the sidelines of the nuclear summit in Washington. On Monday, Jonathan discussed holding clean elections next year in a nation that is one of Africa's top oil suppliers.
The acting president of Nigeria pledged Monday that his fractious, oil-rich nation will hold clean elections next year as he sought to ease concerns about a leadership crisis in his African nation.Skip to next paragraph
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The Nigerian leader, Goodluck Jonathan, also told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations that a program to rehabilitate militants whose attacks have crippled oil production in the Niger Delta region was making progress, despite many skeptics.
"The issue of young men who have taken arms to fight the system ... it's not something you can say you can even complete in the four years of this administration," Jonathan said. "But I can assure you that we will set up a solid base and have a clear focus and a program with timelines that you will see that we are progressing."
Jonathan, who was in Washington for an international summit on nuclear security, is running Nigeria while the health of President Umaru Yar'Adua remains a closely kept secret. Yar'Adua, who hasn't made a public appearance in several months, reportedly is stricken by a debilitating heart condition that's required multiple hospitalizations.
Yar'Adua's extended absence had raised fears of a constitutional crisis in Africa's most populous nation and the United States' fifth-largest supplier of crude oil. Since Jonathan, the vice president, took the reins in February, however, he's made a series of bold moves that suggest he won't be simply a caretaker, including appointing a new cabinet.
Despite its staggering oil wealth, Nigeria, the bulwark of West Africa, is beset by an array of problems. Epidemic corruption, frequent outbreaks of Christian-Muslim tensions, and a particularly messy 2007 election have badly eroded confidence in the government, domestically and internationally. Nuhu Ribadu, a former anticorruption czar, has estimated that Nigerian officials stole or wasted some $440 billion in public funds between 1960 and 1999.