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Nigeria court confirms Yar'Adua presidency

Posted by By Randy Fabi and Camillus Eboh on 2008/12/12 | Views: 2159 |

Nigeria court confirms Yar'Adua presidency


Nigeria's Supreme Court upheld the election of President Umaru Yar'Adua on Friday, giving him the mandate to lead Africa's most populous nation through a global financial crisis and tumbling oil prices.

ABUJA, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Nigeria's Supreme Court upheld the election of President Umaru Yar'Adua on Friday, giving him the mandate to lead Africa's most populous nation through a global financial crisis and tumbling oil prices.

The court, split 4-3, rejected challenges from his two closest rivals in last year's polls who, along with foreign and local observers, alleged widespread vote-rigging in the April 2007 election.

"In sum, this appeal failed and is dismissed. Accordingly, Umaru Yar'Adua and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan are the president and vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria," said Supreme Court justice Niki Tobi, reading for the majority.

The widely expected decision ends nearly two years of legal wrangling that has limited Yar'Adua's authority and unnerved foreign investors in sub-Saharan Africa's second biggest economy.

"I suppose it's positive because it helps to get rid of any political uncertainty," said Razia Khan, regional head of Africa research for Standard Chartered.

"But I don't think in terms of practical steps it necessarily changes all that much."

NO EXCUSES

With his legal challenges behind him, Yar'Adua will need to confront growing pressure to fulfil his campaign promises such as fixing the country's shoddy power sector and improving security in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

"There are no excuses for non-performance. The administration has to perform and we will evaluate them based on what they do with the economy," said Bismarck Rewane, head of Lagos-based consultancy Financial Derivatives.

Yar'Adua's critics believe he has moved too slowly on reforms, pointing to the long delays in drafting a 2009 budget, choosing a new cabinet, and revamping the energy sector.

The president must also manage an economy largely untouched by the global financial crisis, but facing slower growth due to plummeting oil prices. Some 80 percent of government revenues come from the OPEC member's oil sector.

The court said former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari and ex-vice president Atiku Abubakar, the two main opposition presidential candidates last year, failed to provide enough evidence to prove that the April 2007 vote was too flawed to be credible.

"We have accepted the judgement. We don't have any option," said Mike Ahamba, one of Buhari's lawyers.

The election led to the first handover of power from one civilian leader to another in Africa's top oil producer.

Nigeria, scarred by decades of corrupt dictatorship and military rule since independence from Britain in 1960, returned to civilian government in 1999. (Additional reporting by Pascal Fletcher in Dakar, editing by Diana Abdallah)

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