Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has vowed to conduct free and fair polls next year, but he did not divulge whether he would stand for his re-election.

"I am committed to a clean election and I mean it. Elections in 2011 must be free and fair," Jonathan said in his first television interview, after he took over as president following the death of Umaru Musa Yar'Adua last month.

The president also decried an international perception that the oil rich nation is incapable of holding a credible elections, saying he feels "bitter" about this.

There were allegations of ballot-stuffing and rigging the 2007 Presidential election that brought Yar'Adua to power.

Foreign observers cried foul during the poll.

Presidential and parliamentary elections in the oil-rich nation, due by April next year, are shaping up to be one of the most fiercely contested, with Jonathan not ruling himself out of the race.

On his plan for a second chance at the helm, Jonathan said: "I will not be in a position to tell Nigerians presently whether I will run on not. Immediately I declare now that I am contesting, then it will affect governance, disrupt the activities of ministers."

Jonathan, meanwhile, conceded that "security personnel" prevented his predecessor Yar'Adua from public appearances for several months before his death.

"There were senior government functionaries; they were not political office holders. They were security personnel," he said, exonerating the former first lady Turai Yar'Adua from accusations that she hid her husband from public.

Yar'Adua, who died at the age of 58, had left Nigeria last November for treatment in Saudi Arabia but returned under the cover of darkness earlier this year before his death.

Nigeria has history of military interventions since independence in 1960 but has also witnessed the longest interregnum. Democracy returned in the African nation when Olusegun Obasanjo took office in 1999 as the first elected president after 16 years of military rule.

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