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Nigeria Votes

Attahiru Jega, Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman, reads the results sheet before he declared Nigeria's incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan as the winner of the presidential election, in Abuja, Nigeria, April 18, 2011.

Election was a success for the Nigerian people and a substantial improvement, but far from perfect.

On April 16, Nigeria conducted the most successful election in years as more than 35 million voters turned out in orderly and peaceful balloting to choose their most senior leaders. Interest in the presidential election was high, as seen by the significantly greater turnout over that of the National Assembly elections held on April 9.

There were also marked improvements in the way in which the election was administered by the nation's Independent National Electoral Commission, despite the need to accommodate many more voters. On April 18, the election commission announced President Goodluck Jonathan as the winner, with 58 percent of the vote.

But while this election was a success for the Nigerian people and a substantial improvement over the deeply flawed 2007 presidential election, it was far from perfect. There were allegations of “under-age” voting, intimidation, ballot stuffing, and inordinately high voter turnouts. Violence also spiked as protestors took to the streets in parts of northern Nigerian, leading to burned property, injuries and even death.

The United States strongly condemns these acts – violence has no place in a democracy. We call on all candidates, political parties and their supporters to respect the results of the election and to channel any grievances or challenges peacefully through established, legal procedures. We encourage those who do not win office – as president, Assembly member or in the upcoming governor races – to accept the voters' decision with the same public spirit that led them to enter the electoral process in the first place.