Nigerian President-elect Muhammadu Buhari said his country has “embraced democracy” and put its one-party state past behind it.
Buhari spoke Wednesday in Abuja, just hours after the electoral commission declared him the official winner of Saturday’s presidential election, defeating incumbent Goodluck Jonathan by more than 2 million votes.
Buhari called Jonathan “a worthy opponent” and said he extends the “hand of fellowship” to the outgoing president.
President Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party has ruled Nigeria since 1999.
Buhari, of the All Progressives Congress, is to be inaugurated May 29.
Nigeria’s Electoral Commission chairman Attahiru Jega announced earlier Wednesday that Buhari had officially won the election, getting 15.4 million votes to Jonathan’s 12.9 million.
Late Tuesday, when the outcome of the election was apparent, Jonathan conceded defeat and thanked all Nigerians for the opportunity to lead them.
The outgoing president said he kept his promise for a free and fair election. He appealed to anyone who does not like the outcome to follow due process under the constitution and election laws. Jonathan said nobody’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian.
President-elect Buhari is 72 years old and was previously Nigeria’s military ruler for 20 months after officers seized power in a December 1983 coup.
He was toppled by another military coup, but has run for the presidency four times since democracy was restored in Nigeria in 1999.
Nigerians also voted for members of parliament. The African Union and the Economic Community of West African States observer missions said despite logistical problems and some violence, the organization of the election was “acceptable.”
The election was supposed to have been held for just one day, Saturday. But voting was extended into Sunday because of technical problems.
The entire election was postponed for more than a month because of fighting and instability in the northeast, where Boko Haram has been battling the government since 2009.