Nigeria’s governing party has agreed that President Goodluck Jonathan has the right to contest next year’s elections.
The People’s Democratic Party has an unwritten practice of alternating power between north and south of the country.
Mr Jonathan, a southerner, became president after his predecessor died less than half-way through the north’s “turn” of two presidential terms.
The PDP has ruled Nigeria since its return to democracy in 1999.
Nigeria, Africa’s leading oil producer and most populous nation, has a history of coups, ethnic and religious unrest.
Mr Jonathan was sworn in as president when Umaru Yar’Adua died after a long period of illness in May 2010.
“We did not envisage that our dear president [Yar’Adua] would die in office,” Reuters news agency quotes PDP chairman Okwesilieze Nwodo as saying.
“The party believes that Dr Goodluck Jonathan as part and parcel of the joint ticket has the right to contest the presidential primaries for the 2010 elections,” he said.
But he added that this would not stop anyone else in the PDP contesting.
Mr Jonathan has yet to say whether he will run for office.
Correspondents say his rise from a relatively unknown deputy governor, without a political base, to president has been swift.
After months of political stagnation because of Mr Yar’Adua’s illness, many were happy to see Mr Jonathan take the helm.
However, the BBC’s Ahmed Idris in the capital, Abuja, says after 100 days in office his initial popularity is wearing thin.
He says people feel the debate on whether he is able to stand in the 2011 elections, due in January, has taken the urgency out of dealing with issues such as tackling corruption, the electricity crisis and electoral reform.