AFP: NDI, IRI and Other Observer Group Urge Peaceful Election in Nigeria

Nigerian president urges violence-free poll
Agence France Presse

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan Thursday, two days before the start of general elections, appealed to his countrymen to shun the violence that has tainted past polls.

“Nigeria cannot afford to be distracted by acts of mindless violence and primordial tendencies at this critical period of our nation’s history,” he said.

Analysts say there is a risk of a flare-up in violence during and after polls in Nigeria, Africa’s leading oil producer.

Killings, fatal bomb blasts and other types of attacks have already hit a number of states in the run up to the polls, prompting concern from authorities.

“I use this opportunity to appeal to members of the political class, the electorate and all Nigerians to ensure that the 2011 general elections commencing in another forty eight hours are conducted in an atmosphere of peace, harmony, mutual respect and healthy competition.”

The legislative, presidential and governorship elections are to be held over three successive weekends beginning from Saturday.

Jonathan, favoured to win the April 9 presidential vote, is the candidate of the ruling People’s Democratic Party.

The European Union and the African Union have deployed observers for the Nigerian poll.

In a joint statement Thursday, the National Democratic Institute, the Commonwealth Observer Group, the EU Election Observation Mission and the International Republican Institute said they acknowleged the “desire of the electorate to participate in genuine elections, free of intimidation and violence.”

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