Nigeria’s Jonathan Says Terrorism a Domestic Issue He Can Manage
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan said Islamic radicals who have attacked government officials and security forces are a “domestic problem” unrelated to his election or the nation’s split between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south.
“I can promise you that as a government we are committed and up to the task and will bring it down,” Jonathan told reporters at the United Nations in New York, ahead of a meeting today in Washington with President Barack Obama. “It does not rise to the level where we will have to ask President Obama or other world leaders for assistance.”
Authorities in Nigeria’s north have blamed a radical Islamic sect, Boko Haram, which draws inspiration from Afghanistan’s Taliban movement, for bomb attacks and killings targeting government officials and security forces. More than 14,000 people died in ethnic and religious clashes between 1999 and 2009 in Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer and most populous nation, according to the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.
At least 14 people were killed and 17 seriously wounded when three blasts went off yesterday in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, including one at the state government secretariat, Borno state police spokesman Lawal Abdullahi said. In a separate incident, a gunman in the city suspected to be an Islamic militant shot dead Ibrahim Mohammed, a Muslim cleric, late yesterday at his home, Abdullahi said.
Jonathan, 53, a Christian from the oil-rich Niger River delta region, defeated his nearest rival, Muhammadu Buhari, a northern Muslim, in the April 16 vote by a 57 percent to 31 percent margin. At least 800 people were killed as protests by supporters of the opposition candidate, a former military ruler, triggered violence between Muslim and Christian ethnic groups, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.
“We have challenges, but it has nothing to do with the elections,” Jonathan said. “It has nothing to do with Christians and Muslims. Boko Haram would rather attack Islamic groups that embrace the western way of life. Even the most powerful countries are confronted with terrorist attacks. You have to manage it and gradually suppress it.”
Jonathan said he would use a “carrots-and-sticks approach,” of negotiations with Boko Haram and the use of military force if talks fail. He pointed to the negotiations and amnesty program that has reduced violence in the Niger Delta.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bill Varner at the United Nations at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva in Washington at email@example.com
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