Nigerian leader woos opposition ahead of cabinet

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ABUJA — Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan Wednesday huddled with leaders of some of the nation’s key political parties ahead of forming his new administration.

But his main challenger in the April elections, ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, boycotted the talks.

Jonathan, who was sworn into office for a first full four-year term at the helm of Africa’s most populous country, solicited the support of all the parties for his new government.

“I need the cooperation of all the political parties,” he told the leaders, adding he was not going to “play the politics of discrimination.”

“I will not run a government of opposition or main party. I want us to collectively run a Nigerian government,” he said in his opening address before the talks went into a closed session.

Leaders at the talks included those from opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which made significant gains in the April elections in the southwest of the country, capturing some seats long held by Jonathan’s party.

His own Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and three other smaller opposition parties, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), the Labour Party (LP) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), attended the meeting.

Staying away was Buhari, whose Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) has rejected Jonathan’s victory and lodged legal petitions over alleged electoral malpractices in the elections judged at home and abroad as the fairest in Nigeria’s history.

Jonathan in his weekend inaugural address said he will name his new cabinet within two weeks. His nominations will need to be approved by the Senate.

Members of the new national assembly will be formally inaugurated on Monday.

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.
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