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April 16, 2011

Nigeria votes on whether to keep accidental leader


KAYAWA, Nigeria —

Jonathan's campaign posters feature prominently here, and voter Ogah Emmanuel said he would back the incumbent.

"He has a vision for this country, I will just try and give him the mandate to rule again and see the next four years," Emmanuel said. "He has promised us, as youths, what he's going to do. We know he's going to do it."

But Ita Emmanuel said he would be casting his ballot for opposition candidate Ribadu.

"I don't think the same people can bring change in the next four years," said the 32-year-old social worker.

Many hope Saturday's vote will help Nigeria atone for years of marred polls since it became a democracy only 12 years ago. International observers roundly rejected Nigeria's 2007 poll as being rigged and marred by thuggery, though it represented the nation's first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power.

Both Jonathan and the leader of the country's Independent National Electoral Commission have promised a free and fair vote Saturday. However, election workers have clamored for life insurance and police protection.

During legislative elections last weekend, violence erupted in northeastern Nigeria, where a radical Islamic sect operates, leaving a hotel ablaze, a politician dead and a polling station and a vote-counting center bombed.

Four people were arrested in Maiduguri following the explosion early Saturday and another one late Friday, authorities there said. Turnout however remained steady despite the pre-election violence.

On Friday night, Nigerian television networks began showing a video captured on YouTube of what appeared to be a woman at a polling place in last week's election pressing her thumb to a number of fraudulent votes. The individuals who posted the video did not respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press, which could not immediately verify the authenticity of the footage.


Associated Press writers Njadvara Musa in Maiduguri, Nigeria; and Yinka Ibukun and Krista Larson in Lagos, Nigeria contributed to this report.

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