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Nigeria’s president sworn in, seeks unity

President Goodluck Jonathan said development would remedy the divides between the country’s north and south. President Goodluck Jonathan said development would remedy the divides between the country’s north and south. (Sunday Alamba/ Associated Press)
Associated Press / May 30, 2011

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LAGOS, Nigeria — Goodluck Jonathan was sworn in yesterday for a full four-year term as president of Nigeria and is now faced with the challenge of uniting a country that saw deadly postelection violence despite what observers called the fairest vote in more than a decade.

Hours after the inaugural, a series of bomb blasts at an army barracks in Nigeria’s northeast killed at least five people, police said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Many northerners believe someone from their region should have been the next leader after the Muslim president, Umar Musa Yar’Adua, died in office. Jonathan is a Christian from the south.

The stately ceremony at the main parade ground in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja came just over a year after Jonathan was sworn in to office to complete Yar’Adua’s term.

“You have entrusted me with your mandate and I will never, ever, let you down,’’ Jonathan said during his inaugural address shown on state TV.

Observers heralded the April 16 vote as the fairest election that Nigeria had held since it became a democracy in 1999.

The April vote, however, was marred by postelection riots that left hundreds dead, highlighting religious and ethnic fault lines in Africa’s most populous country.

During his inaugural address yesterday, Jonathan said that development would remedy those divides.

“Together we will unite to improve the living standards of all our peoples. . . . This is our decade of development,’’ he said.

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