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Opposition Parties Denounce Nigerian Elections

From those lovers of fair elections at the Associated Press:

People mark ballot papers with their fingerprints as they vote in Katsina, April 21, 2007. Nigeria’s presidential election was so badly flawed that it should be cancelled and held again, the biggest local election observer group said on Sunday.

Observers say Nigeria’s vote was flawed

By EDWARD HARRIS, Associated Press Writer

LAGOS, Nigeria – The two main opposition parties on Sunday denounced the conduct of Nigeria’s presidential elections while an influential, homegrown observer group called for a cancellation of the vote meant to cement civilian rule in Africa’s top oil producer.

Turnout appeared low for Saturday’s presidential vote, which was marked by ballot-paper shortages in opposition strongholds, intimidation by thugs and open rigging favoring the ruling party of outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The Transition Monitoring Group, claiming 50,000 Nigerian observers, said there was no election was held at all in many of the country’s 36 states and voting started very late in many others.

“That’s why we’re calling for the cancellation of the entire exercise,” said Innocent Chukwuma, the chairman of the body.

Neither of the two main opposition parties rejected the vote outright, saying they were waiting for full information from around the vast nation.

“Some voting has taken place, but there was no election,” said Abba Kyari, a spokesman for the party of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, considered one of the two top opposition candidates.

A spokesman for the party of Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who fell out with Obasanjo last year and ran as an opposition candidate, said the party would very likely challenge the results in court.

Saturday’s vote “could not be termed free and fair by any imagination. We believe a lot of rigging has been done,” said Lai Mohammed…

Competition for government revenues flowing from the oil industry means Nigerian political seats are hotly — and often violently — contested. But despite disorder and confusion at many voting centers, there were few immediate reports of the widespread violence that has plagued the electoral period, raising hopes that power can be transferred from one elected civilian president to another for the first time in Nigeria’s coup-prone 47-year history.

Nigeria’s mass daily Vanguard newspaper reported that 16 policemen died during Saturday’s vote, including seven in a traffic accident.

Dozens died in the run-up to the presidential and national parliamentary vote and violence continued Saturday, with a failed truck bombing at the gates of the electoral commission headquarters in the capital, Abuja…

Presidential ballots distributed Saturday in many parts of the country lacked serial numbers or any other unique distinguishing marks that would guard against fraud by allowing officials to track the papers from ballot boxes through collation centers…

In the main city of Lagos, some polling centers in opposition strongholds had only a fraction of the ballot papers needed, sparking accusations that their vote was being suppressed. In some parts of Lagos, voting material for the national legislature never arrived and voting was postponed.

Electoral officials said they hoped to release results by late Monday…

Of course the United Nations, Jimmy Carter and the rest of the usual international busy-bodies do-gooders will be up in arms about this.

(Just kidding.)

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, April 22nd, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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