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Elections Show Progress of Nigeria's Democracy


A woman prepares to cast her vote in Kaduna, Nigeria, April 28, 2011 (file photo)

The elections represent a marked improvement over the deeply flawed and violence marred electoral process of four years ago.

Nigerians went to the polls in impressive numbers last month in a series of elections to choose state and national Assembly members, many governors and the nation's president. In so doing, they completed the most successful elections since their country's return to democracy in 1999.

While there were reports of irregularities at some polling stations, and technical problems forced the postponement of the first round of balloting, the elections represent a marked improvement over the deeply flawed and violence marred electoral process of four years ago. This reverses what some feared was a downward trajectory in the nation's political development. Indeed, it provides a solid foundation for further strengthening of its electoral procedures and democratic institutions in the years to come.

After progressively worse elections in 1999, 2003, and 2007, these elections were a real opportunity for Nigerians to choose their leaders at both the state and national level. They have shown to the world their resilience and the will to have their voices heard. This is in no small part to the credit of the Independent National Electoral Commission, or INEC, and security services in addressing the challenges and improving their efforts with each progressive election during the month.

The United States is concerned with the allegations of fraud and "ballot box snatching" that have been raised, and strongly urge the relevant authorities to investigate and take corrective action. We are confident, however, that the INEC leaders will continue to take steps to perfect the electoral process to ensure further success in fulfilling the will of the Nigerian people.

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