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Goodluck charms

"Goodluck charms" Continued...

Issue: "Fighting poverty," March 13, 2010

Also daunting: religious and ethnic conflicts. An outbreak of violence in January near the North/South border between Muslims and Christians left as many as 300 people dead. Jonathan deployed troops to quell the violence. It may be harder to quell a radicalization among some Islamic sects that has driven Christians from their homes and has left international observers worried about radical Islamic elements leading to the kind of terror plots nearly carried out on U.S. soil on Christmas Day.

Meanwhile, many Muslims are anxious to see a Muslim leader take Jonathan's place: Yar'Adua is a Muslim, and many say an agreement to alternate between Muslim and Christian presidents requires a Muslim to take Jonathan's place in presidential elections next year. If Jonathan attempts to run for the presidency, the move could escalate Muslim-Christian tension.

For now, managing ethnic and religious conflict will remain a tightrope for Jonathan, according to Walter Carrington, former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria in the 1990s. (Carrington knows how precarious Nigerian politics can become: At his going-away party in Nigeria in 1997, armed Nigerian police forces raided the gathering and harassed party-goers.) Carrington says meting out consistent justice will be key: "He's got to show that he's acting on behalf of the entire country."

Nigerians wait to see if Jonathan can live up to such high expectations. The acting president seems sobered by the task and even ready to yield to Yar'Adua if the day comes: "More than ever, I urge all Nigerians as a people of faith in God, to pray fervently for the full recovery of our dear president and his early return."

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

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