Nigeria’s election commission has postponed the nation’s closely watched presidential election for six weeks citing security concerns over the insurgent group Boko Haram’s continued attacks in areas of Northeast Nigeria. Once set for February 14, voting will now be held March 28, as combined operations of troops from Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria work to reclaim and pacify areas of the country taken over by the insurgents bent of creating an Islamic state.
Despite security concerns, the move brought charges of political interference by the government and sparked fears of political unrest in the hotly contested race. Opposition leaders have called for calm to discourage the kind of violence that marred the voting in 2011.
The United States joins others in the international community in voicing deep disappointment in the election commission’s decision to postpone the election. Any political interference with the Independent National Electoral Commission is unacceptable, and it is critical that the government not use security concerns as a pretext for impeding the democratic process.
Given the stakes, it’s absolutely critical that these elections be conducted peacefully, and that they are credible, transparent and accountable. That way, the people of Nigeria can have faith, and the world can have faith, in the government that flows from it.
The international community will be watching closely as the Nigerian government prepares for elections on the newly scheduled dates. The United States underscores the importance of ensuring that there are no further delays.
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.