President-elect Mohammadu Buhari speaks after casting his vote at a polling station in Daura in Katsina State on March 28, 2015. Photo: Getty Images
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Goodluck Jonathan concedes Nigerian presidential election

Ruling president peacefully concedes power to opponent after loss.

Multiple sources are reporting that Goodluck Jonathan, the president of Nigeria, has lost the presidential election - and has called his opponent, Muhammadu Buhari, to concede defeat.

Votes are still being counted in Africa's most populous nation, but with a current lead of more than three million votes, it is almost impossible now for Jonathan to win. His concession is the first by a ruling Nigerian president since the country's independence from the United Kingdom in 1960. Buhari, himself the former leader of a military coup which ruled Nigeria from 1983 to 1985, had previously lost against Jonathan in the 2011 election.

Buhari's party - the All People's Congress - also controls the legislative branch of government, ending the national dominance of Jonathan's People's Democratic Party, which had been the main political force in Nigerian politics since 1999.

International observers have generally been satisfied about the election's fairness, and fears of a return to the conflict that saw 800 people killed during the 2011 presidential have largely been unfounded, though there have been some allegations of fraud. Jonathan, a zoologist before he entered politics, was appointed vice-president in 2007, and assumed the presidency in 2010 after his predecessor, Umaru Yar'Adua, fell ill and subsequently died while in office.

 

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Emmanuel Macron's "moralisation of politics" comes at a heavy price for his allies

"Fake" jobs in French politics, season 3 episode 1.

Something is rotten in the state of France. No political party – at least none that existed before 2016 – seems immune to the spread of investigations into “fake” or shady parliamentary jobs. The accusations sank centre-right candidate François Fillon’s presidential campaign, and led to Marine Le Pen losing her parliamentary immunity in the European parliament (and proxy wars within her party, the National Front). Both deny the allegations. Now the investigations have made their way to the French government, led by Edouard Philippe, Emmanuel Macron’s Prime Minister.

On Wednesday morning, justice minister François Bayrou and secretary of state for European affairs Marielle de Sarnez announced their resignation from Philippe’s cabinet. They followed defence minister Sylvie Goulard’s resignation the previous day. The three politicians belonged not to Macron's party, En Marche!, but the centrist MoDem party. Bayrou, the leader, had thrown his weight behind Macron after dropping his own presidential bid in April.

The disappearance of three ministers leaves Emmanuel Macron’s cross-party government, which includes politicians from centre left and centre right parties, without a centrist helm. (Bayrou, who has run several times for the French presidency and lost, is the original “neither left nor right” politician – just with a less disruptive attitude, and a lot less luck). “I have decided not to be part of the next government,” he told the AFP.

Rumours had been spreading for weeks. Bayrou, who was last part of a French government as education minister from 1993 to 1997, had been under pressure since 9 June, when he was included in a preliminary investigation into “embezzlement”. The case revolves around whether the parliamentary assistants of MoDem's MEPs, paid for by the European Parliament, were actually working full or part-time for the party. The other two MoDem ministers who resigned, along with Bayrou, also have assistants under investigation.

Bayrou has denied the allegations. He has declared that there “never was” any case of “fake” jobs within his party and that it would be “easy to prove”. All the same, by the time he resigned, his position as justice minister has become untenable, not least because he was tasked by Macron with developing key legislation on the “moralisation of politics”, one of the new President’s campaign pledges. On 1 June, Bayrou unveiled the new law, which plans a 10-year ban from public life for any politician convicted of a crime or offence regarding honesty and transparency in their work.

Bayrou described his decision to resign as a sacrifice. “My name was never pronounced, but I was the target to hit to attack the government’s credibility,” he said, declaring he would rather “protect this law” by stepping down. The other two ministers also refuted the allegations, and gave similar reasons for resigning. 

Macron’s movement-turned-unstoppable-machine, En Marche!, remains untainted from accusations of the sort. Their 350 new MPs are younger, more diverse than is usual in France – but they are newcomers in politics. Which is exactly why Macron had sought an alliance with experienced Bayrou in the first place.

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