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Nigerians vote in presidential elections

Nigerians came out in masses Saturday to vote in what the nation hopes will be its first credible presidential election in decades.

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An electoral worker marks the finger of a Nigerian woman at a polling station during the presidential elections in Daura on April 16, 2011. (Seyllou/AFP/Getty Images)

Nigerians came out in large numbers Saturday to vote in what the nation hopes will be its first credible presidential election in decades.

Most of the country saw no signs of violence or chaos, though there were two bombs in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, Reuters reports. The bombings caused no casualties.

The main rival to incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, who comes from the oil-producing Niger Delta, is former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, a northern Muslim.

The vote comes a week after parliamentary elections were deemed credible by observers but saw isolated acts of violence.

Jonathan, who is a former zoology professor and has run the country of 150 million since May, is considered the front-runner despite a poor performance by his party, the People's Democratic Party, in the parliamentary and senate elections, CNN reports.

Africa's most populous nation was under military rule for most of its years of independence. Military rule ended in 1999, but Nigeria has not yet held a free and fair presidential election.

There is hope this time will be different.

"There is no mago mago," local election observer Agu Michael in Lagos told Reuters, using the Yoruba expression for trickery.

Nevertheless, there is also fear that violence will continue to plague the country after the election. Campaign-related violence in the two months before the vote left nearly 100 people dead and millions of dollars of property damaged, reports the Wall Street Journal.

"The rash of politically motivated and religion-linked attacks has raised the prospect that violence could continue after Jonathan's likely victory, destabilizing parts oil-rich Nigeria and scaring away foreign investors," it states.

Read this GlobalPost report on how young Nigerians are using Twitter and Facebook in an effort to stamp out fraud in the election.
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/nigeria/110416/nigeria-election-2011