Nigerians count presidential ballots; bomb hurts 8

A bomb exploded at a poor hotel hours after voters cast their ballots.

Last Updated: Apr 17, 2011, 21:51 PM IST

Kaduna: Preliminary election results released Sunday showed Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan`s party prevailing in several of its strongholds, as officials awaited figures from the north in order to determine whether he would meet the threshold to win outright in the first round.

Meanwhile, authorities in northern Nigeria said eight people had been wounded after a bomb exploded at a poor hotel hours after voters cast their ballots.

Jonathan, who became president after his predecessor died in office last year after a lengthy illness, is the presumed front-runner as his party has dominated Nigerian politics since the West African giant became a democracy 12 years ago.

But several other candidates drawing much of their support from Muslims in the north threaten to siphon off enough votes that it could go to a second round for the first time.

To win, Jonathan must receive a minimum level of support from across this enormous West African country of 150 million — a complicated formula somewhat similar to the American electoral college system. He cannot win the presidency outright unless he carries at least a quarter of the votes cast in at least two-thirds of states and the capital.

On Sunday, election officials said Jonathan had carried the capital of Abuja as well as the states of Enugu and Ogun. But those represent only a fraction of the total, and neither are in the north where Jonathan needs to draw at least marginal support to avoid a second round.

In the vice president`s hometown of Kaduna, a police spokesman said Sunday that two suspects were in custody after the explosion late Saturday. Kaduna state police spokesman Aminu Lawal told The Associated Press that authorities had no motive for the attack.

Kaduna was once a ruling party stronghold but preliminary results from Saturday`s poll showed voters sided with an opposition candidate — Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler from the north who previously led Nigeria shortly after a 1983 coup.

Jonathan, who became president after his predecessor died in office last year after a lengthy illness, is the presumed front-runner as his party has dominated Nigerian politics since the West African giant became a democracy 12 years ago.

But several other candidates drawing much of their support from Muslims in the north threaten to siphon off enough votes that it could go to a second round for the first time.

To win, Jonathan must receive a minimum level of support from across this enormous West African country of 150 million — a complicated formula somewhat similar to the American electoral college system. He cannot win the presidency outright unless he carries at least a quarter of the votes cast in at least two-thirds of states and the capital.

On Sunday, election officials said Jonathan had carried the capital of Abuja as well as the states of Enugu and Ogun. But those represent only a fraction of the total, and neither are in the north where Jonathan needs to draw at least marginal support to avoid a second round.

In the vice president`s hometown of Kaduna, a police spokesman said Sunday that two suspects were in custody after the explosion late Saturday. Kaduna state police spokesman Aminu Lawal told The Associated Press that authorities had no motive for the attack.

Kaduna was once a ruling party stronghold but preliminary results from Saturday`s poll showed voters sided with an opposition candidate — Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler from the north who previously led Nigeria shortly after a 1983 coup.

zee