August 10, 2014 / 1:12 PM / 4 years ago

Nigeria opposition retains seat in peaceful governorship poll

OSOGBO Nigeria (Reuters) - Nigerians in southwestern Osun state peacefully re-elected an opposition governor on Sunday, raising hopes that next year’s national elections might also pass peacefully, after several past ones were marred by violence.

In the second election held without incident since June, Rauf Aregbesola, from the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), won with 74 percent of the vote.

“The candidate of All Progressive party, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, is hereby declared the winner and he is returned elected,” the electoral commission’s chief returning officer Bamitale Omole said.

His supporters sang and danced in the streets of the state capital Osogbo to celebrate the result. There were no reports of fraud or intimidation. Candidates from 18 parties took part in the poll.

More than 800 people were killed and 65,000 displaced in three days of violence following presidential election in 2011, according to Human Rights Watch.

Rioting erupted mainly in the mostly Muslim north after Jonathan, a Christian from the south, won the vote. Many fear a repeat if Jonathan runs again in February 2015. He has not said whether he plans to do so but his supporters insist on his right to.

Many northerners felt that his running last time tore up an unwritten agreement to rotate power between the largely Christian south and mostly Muslim north.

Nigeria’s ruling party toppled the main opposition candidate in a governorship vote in Ekiti state in June.

Governors in Nigeria are among the most powerful figures in Africa’s largest economy and top oil producer. Some control budgets bigger than those of many African countries and can influence nominations of their parties’ presidential candidates.

Reporting by Akintunde Akinleye; Additional reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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