Bookies tip Nigerian as next in line

Francis Arinze of Nigeria, Peter Turkson of Ghana and Marc Ouellet of Canada were among the cardinals hotly tipped by bookmakers Monday to take over from Pope Benedict XVI.

William Hill named 80-year-old Arinze as their favourite to replace the pontiff following Monday's shock announcement of the pontiff's resignation with odds of 2-1, followed by Turkson at 5-2.

Coral also tipped Arinze as the likeliest successor with odds of 7-4, followed by Turkson at 2-1 and Ouellet in third place at 5-1.

Irish bookmaker Paddy Power named Ouellet as the favourite with odds of 5-2, followed by Arinze at 3-1 and Turkson at 4-1.

During the 2005 conclave of the Vatican's College of Cardinals that elected Benedict, Arinze was considered "papabile", or a potential successor to the late John Paul II.

"When we opened betting in 2005, Arinze was our favourite," a William Hill spokesman said. "Also Arinze took over from Ratzinger as the cardinal bishop of Velletri-Segni — it could be that he'll follow his footsteps again."

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