With partial results reported in the Nigerian presidential election, it appears opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari is leading incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.
Reuters, which has collated results from three-quarters of Nigeria’s states as they’re broadcast live on state TV, reported that Buhari has so far obtained 11.5 million votes, Jonathan 9.5 million.
Electoral officers from each of the 36 states are taking turns declaring results from their respective states at the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The vote count was stopped Monday night and will resume at 10 a.m. Tuesday (5 a.m. ET), according to a tweet from Attahiru Jega, the chairman of the electoral commission. Jega will be the one to announce final results.
Violent protests after Nigeria’s presidential elections Saturday sparked calls for calm from the two main candidates and a warning by the United States and Britain against political interference.
Protesters fired gunshots and torched a local electoral office in Nigeria’s oil-rich Rivers state on Sunday as they marched to protest the elections, amid claims of vote-rigging and voter intimidation.
Heavy rain eventually forced the protesters to leave, but there are fears it will take more than rain to stop further protests and violence. More than 800 people were killed in post-election violence across Nigeria’s north in 2011 after charges that those elections were illegitimate.
Now Nigeria has just held what are thought to be the closest elections since a return to democracy in 1999 after decades of military rule. The two main candidates are incumbent Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party and retired Buhari of All Progressives Congress.
Jonathan and Buhari last week issued a pledge reaffirming their commitment to “free, fair and credible elections” after their signing of the Abuja Accord in January.
After the protests in Rivers, Buhari’s All Progressives Congress demanded the elections there be canceled. “There’s been so much violence in Rivers state that it’s just not tenable,” party spokesman Lai Mohammed said.
But the Peoples Democratic Party disputed the accusation, saying the election was “credible and the result reflects the overwhelming wish of the people of Rivers state to support President Goodluck Jonathan.”
Concerns over count
“We are concerned by what seems to be happening,” said Jega, the election chairman, about events in Rivers. Voting ended after problems with ballot papers and digital voting cards saw it extended to Sunday in some areas.
Read more: Nigerian election extended one day
Britain and the United States entered the fray Monday with their top diplomats issuing a statement welcoming a “largely peaceful vote” but warning any political interference would contravene Jonathan and Buhari’s peace pact.
“So far, we have seen no evidence of systemic manipulation of the process. But there are disturbing indications that the collation process — where the votes are finally counted — may be subject to deliberate political interference. This would contravene the letter and spirit of the Abuja Accord, to which both major parties committed themselves,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said.
Responding to their joint statement, electoral commission spokesman Kayode Idowu said: “For all that I know there is no sign of political interference in the collation procedure.” Idowu said the collation procedure “cannot be subject to interference as long as our representative is present.”