Nigeria's head party says President Jonathan can run in next year's election, despite religion

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria's ruling party says President Goodluck Jonathan can run in next year's election, despite an informal agreement calling for a candidate from the country's Muslim north.

The People's Democratic Party issued a statement Friday backing the possibility for Jonathan, a Christian from the oil-rich country's south, to run in the elections due to be held as early as January. However, the party says that doesn't preclude others from running in the coming primary.

Nigeria's unwritten agreement calls for the presidency to alternate between the Christian south and the Muslim north.

Jonathan became president after the May 5 death of elected leader Umaru Yar'Adua, a Muslim from the north. Party leaders anticipated Yar'Adua holding office for two, four-year terms, like his Christian predecessor.