IRI to Observe Nigeria’s Rescheduled April 16 Presidential Election

Abuja, Nigeria − IRI today announced it will send an international delegation to observe Nigeria’s April 16 presidential election, as well as have observers for the national assembly elections.  The electoral process was originally scheduled to begin April 2 and was delayed by one week due to problems with the delivery of some election materials.  National assembly are now scheduled for April 9, the presidential election for April 16 and the gubernatorial, state assembly and local government elections for April 26. 

Following the flawed 2007 elections, it is critical to the democratic transition of Nigeria that the 2011 elections are conducted in an open and transparent manner that reflects the will of the Nigerian people.  With the recent postponement and history of troubled elections, the role of international and domestic observers will take on even greater importance.

IRI’s delegation for the April 16 election will be led by former Slovenian Prime Minister and current Member of Parliament Janez Janša and Constance Berry Newman, member of IRI’s Board of Directors, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and former U.S. Agency for International Development Assistant Administrator for Africa. 

IRI staff will also serve as observers and assist in the mission.  IRI staff will be led by Judy Van Rest, Executive Vice President; Dan Fisk, Vice President for Policy and Strategic Planning; Paul Fagan, Regional Director of IRI’s Africa division based in Washington, DC; and Mourtada Deme, Country Director of IRI’s Nigeria program based in Abuja.  For the April 9 national assembly elections, IRI staff will be led by Dan Fisk.

The observer mission will build on IRI’s pre-election assessment mission earlier this year, led by John Kufuor, former President of Ghana.  Upon arrival in Nigeria, delegates will be briefed by representatives from the U.S. Embassy, Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, international and Nigerian nongovernmental organizations, political parties and representatives of the media.  They will also be briefed on the rights and responsibilities of international observers and Nigerian election law.

Delegates will then be deployed throughout the country where they will observe polling stations and identify and evaluate strengths and weaknesses in Nigeria’s election system, including campaign regulations, the balloting process, vote tabulation and reporting.

IRI has monitored more than 135 elections in more than 40 countries, including Nigeria’s 1999, 2003 and 2007 elections. 

Since 1999, IRI’s Nigeria program has focused on enhancing the credibility of the electoral process.  For the 2011 elections, IRI worked with a variety of stakeholders including political parties, youth, women, media, persons with disabilities and civil society groups.

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