US CONDEMNS ELECTION POSTPONEMENT

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THE postponement of the Nigerian general election announced Saturday night by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is generating ripples around the world, including at the White House, where President Barack Obama is said to be closely following events, the Empowered Newswire reports.
Besides, a concerned Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon, disclosed in a statement made in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he is visiting and released in New York, on Sunday, that he had to speak with President Goodluck Jonathan on the day the polls were postponed.
What is said to have baffled the White House and the US State Department is the role reportedly played by some top security agency officials in Nigeria to twist the hands of the INEC leadership.No sooner after the postponement was announced by INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, on Saturday night, informed sources said the White House and the State Department decided on a speedy and formal response from the US government personally signed by the Secretary of State, John Kerry, rather than the State Department spokesperson, to show the level of seriousness with which the White House took the delay.
In his statement released on Saturday in the US, Kerry bluntly said the Americans had been very disappointed and did not accept the decision.
According to him, “the United States is deeply disappointed by the decision to postpone Nigeria’s presidential election, which had been scheduled for February 14.”
Continuing, Kerry added that “political interference with the Independent National Electoral Commission is unacceptable,and it is critical the government does not use security concerns as a pretext for impeding the democratic process.
The US Secretary of State noted “the international community will be watching closely as the Nigerian government prepares for elections on the newly scheduled dates. The US underscores the importance of ensuring that there are no further delays.”
Mr Kerry recalled that “as I reaffirmed when I visited Lagos last month, we support a free, transparent and credible electoral process in Nigeria and renew our calls on all candidates, their supporters and Nigerian citizens to maintain calm and reject election-related violence.”
Also reacting, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon was less critical, but called for rapid, timely and prompt holding of the polls.
According to the statement released by the office of the spokesperson to the Secretary-General of the UN, the UN scribe “urges the electoral authorities to take all necessary measures, such as the rapid distribution of the remaining Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), to enable all eligible citizens, including those displaced, to exercise their right to vote in a timely manner. This is imperative for ensuring a credible, free and transparent election.”
The UN statement disclosed that on “ February 7, the Secretary-General spoke on phone with President Jonathan over the matter.”
And the statement added that earlier on 2 February 2015, the Secretary-General also spoke to opposition candidate General Muhammadu Buhari.
The UN added that “in his conversations, the Secretary-General encouraged both President Jonathan and opposition candidate, Muhammadu Buhari to respect the Abuja accord they willingly adopted and which commits them to non-violence, peace and tolerance during the elections.”
Besides, the UN Secretary-General added that he is looking “to Nigeria’s authorities to uphold their commitment to ensure a violence-free election and put in place adequate security measures, so that citizens across the country are able to exercise their civic duty safely and without fear.”
The Secretary-General of the UN also hopes that the forthcoming elections will meet the high expectations of the Nigerian people and the international community.
“The successful conduct of these polls would strengthen Nigeria’s democracy and enable the country to continue to play a leading role in the promotion of regional peace and security,” he said.
Similarly, the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans (CANAN) also expressed concern that the military authorities, which were supposed to be apolitical were beginning to be used to play political games.
In a statement released by the secretariat of CANAN, the group said while it was not going to be partisan, it was worried that security agencies could be allowed to blackmail and rubbish INEC’s independence.
According to CANAN, “the chairman of INEC made it clear that it was the security chiefs in Nigeria who wrote him to say they would not guarantee the security of the elections whose dates was set long time ago.”
The association criticised this kind of behaviour by the security agencies, saying: “If nothing, the security agencies have been unwittingly drawn into the murky waters of Nigeria’s politics and this has to be stopped, as it portends danger for Nigeria’s fledging democracy.”
Source: Tribune

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