Nigeria’s Supreme Court upheld the election of President Umaru Yar’Adua on Friday, giving him the mandate to lead Africa’s most populous nation through a global financial crisis and tumbling oil prices.The court rejected challenges from his two closest rivals in last year’s polls who, along with foreign and local observers, alleged widespread vote-rigging in the April 2007 election.

8-09-yaradua“In sum, this appeal failed and is dismissed. Accordingly, Umaru Yar’Adua and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan are the president and vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” said Supreme Court justice Niki Tobi.The widely expected decision ends nearly two years of legal wrangling that has limited Yar’Adua’s authority and unnerved foreign investors in sub-Saharan Africa’s second biggest economy.

“I don’t think it (the court case) has been a huge impediment, but it has been a distraction,” said Matthew Pearson, head of Africa equity research at Renaissance Capital.”The ruling will allow him to focus more closely on implementing his reforms.”

With his legal challenges behind him, Yar’Adua will confront growing pressure to fulfil his campaign promises such as fixing the country’s shoddy power sector and improving security in the oil-rich Niger Delta.Yar’Adua’s critics believe he has moved too slowly on reforms, pointing to the long delays in drafting a 2009 budget, choosing a new cabinet, and revamping the energy sector.



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