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Nigeria leaders file suits over VP party switch

[JURIST] Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo [official profile], and Vice President Atiku Abubakar [official profile; official website] filed competing lawsuits in the capital city of Abuja Wednesday over whether Abubakar should resign from office after accepting a presidential nomination from a competing party. While Abubakar claims that he has the right to remain Vice President until his term expires or if he is impeached, Obasanjo and the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) claim that by switching parties to the Action Congress (AC), Abubakar forfeited his office, and that the Vice President must be of the same party as the President.

Obasanjo and Abubakar have been at odds since Obasanjo tried [JURIST report] - but after US urgings [JURIST report] failed [JURIST report] - to extend the constitutional [text] term limits which would allow him to run for a third term. Abubakar heavily opposed extending the limits, hinting that he would be seeking the presidency himself. The PDP later kicked Abubakar out following charges of corruption [JURIST report], which would have effectively ended Abubakar’s presidential ambitions due to constitutional requirements that presidential candidates belong to a political party. Earlier this month an Abuja High Court ruled that the PDP violated the country's constitution [JURIST report] by suspending the vice president from membership. In the wake of that ruling, the PDP said that its practical effect would be limited as Abubakar had still missed a nomination deadline and the party would not reopen that process [Nigerian Tribune report], which led to Abubakar’s switching political parties last week. AP has more. From Nigeria, This Day has local coverage.

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