Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has told state governors in the ruling party he intends to stand in elections next January, one of the governors who attended the meeting said on Wednesday.
An election bid by Jonathan, who is from the southern Niger Delta, could split the ruling party due to an agreement that power rotates between the Muslim north and Christian south every two terms, meaning the next president should be a Muslim northerner.
The notion of sharing power between north and south aims to prevent such disputes becoming a factor in federal politics.
Imo State Governor Ikedi Okahim, a member of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), told reporters Jonathan had made his intentions known at a meeting with PDP governors in the presidential villa late on Tuesday.
Should Jonathan not run in 2011 in order to uphold the zoning principle, his southern home region would be next in line to present a presidential nominee in 2015 and he would be in a position to stand with his credibility intact, his allies say.
Okahim returned to meet Jonathan again on Wednesday with members of his state parliament and other officials.
"He told me yesterday he will run, he told all of us (PDP governors) he will run, that's why I am here with my speaker and my state leaders to assure him that we have decided we will support him," Okahim told reporters.
Nigeria is equally split between Christians and Muslims and is made up of more than 200 ethnic groups, all of whom generally live peacefully side by side.
But more than 13,500 people have died in religious or ethnic clashes since the end of military rule in 1999, according to U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, violence whose roots lie more in rivalry for land and economic power than in religious fervour.
ReutersLast Mod: 09 Eylül 2010, 19:23