Nigerian politicians brawl in parliament over PDP split

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Media captionNigerian politicians exchange punches in parliament

Nigerian politicians have exchanged punches after a splinter group from the governing People's Democratic Party (PDP) tried to address parliament.

The lower house had just reconvened after a seven-week break - during which the new PDP faction was formed.

But a BBC reporter says MPs loyal to President Goodluck Jonathan began shouting and jeering, which upset their rivals and scuffles broke out.

The new faction does not want President Jonathan to seek re-election in 2015.

He has not yet said whether he will stand but some of his allies, including his wife, have started campaigning for him.

The BBC's Ibrahim Isa says he saw one politician tear the shirt of another in chaotic scenes at Nigeria's House of Representatives in the capital, Abuja.

The brawl lasted for about 10 minutes with legislators hitting each other.

TV footage reportedly shows a female legislator poking her finger in the face of a colleague.

Another politician was seen grabbing a chair in an attempt to hit a fellow lawmaker, the AFP news agency reports.

The PDP has won every national election since the end of military rule in 1999, so the party's presidential candidate would be in a strong position to become Nigeria's next leader.

Mr Jonathan has been president since 2010, when his predecessor died in office and he was promoted from vice-president.

He beat off a challenge to become PDP candidate in the 2011 elections, which he won despite opposition claims of rigging.

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