Nigeria 'embarrassed' by Morocco row

13 March 2015

Last updated at 19:19

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has said he is "highly embarrassed" that his officials said he had spoken to the Moroccan king when he had not.

Earlier this week, Morocco recalled its ambassador over the affair after the Nigerian foreign ministry insisted the two heads of state had spoken by phone.

The North African kingdom accused Nigeria of using King Mohammed VI as part an election campaign.

But Mr Jonathan denied it had anything to do with campaigning.

An investigation has been ordered into "the controversy".

'Unethical practices'

There were reports that President Jonathan, a Christian from southern Nigeria, had wanted use the conversation to curry favour with Muslim voters in elections later in the month.

But he said he had been trying to speak to various African leaders to seek their support for Nigeria's candidate for the position of African Development Bank (AfDB) president.

His office released a statement saying President Jonathan was "shocked, surprised and highly embarrassed by the controversy that has erupted" and that he had ordered the foreign affairs minister to find out how it had occurred.

"The regrettable furore that has developed over the matter is due entirely to misinformation as President Jonathan has neither spoken with King Mohammed or told anybody that he had a telephone conversation with the Moroccan monarch," the statement said.

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The Nigerian foreign ministry had said on Sunday that "both leaders spoke extensively over the phone on matters of mutual interest and concern".

Mr Jonathan said he wanted the investigation "to identify all those who were responsible for the unacceptable act of official misinformation which has resulted in an unnecessary diplomatic row with another country and national embarrassment".

Announcing the withdrawal of its ambassador, Morocco had condemned Nigeria's "unethical practices" - saying the king had declined to talk to the Nigerian leader as it viewed the request to be part of the "internal electioneering".

Mr Jonathan is facing a strong challenge in the 28 March elections from opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari, who is popular in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north.

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