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Nigerian Electoral Commission Seeks to Push Back Elections

In Nigeria – controversy over a request by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for a delay in the voting, now scheduled for January.

Critics say this shows INEC is not capable of delivering on its promise of a credible poll. But the commission says more time is needed to give the country a fair and internationally accepted election.

The report was issued Sunday (9/19/10) at the end of a retreat in Calabar that brought together representatives of the federal government and the chairmen of the 36 state branches of INEC, the Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC).

The document made it clear that INEC did not make a decision on the matter but only alerted authorities to the problem, says INEC spokesman Kayode Idowu.

“Having examined the commission’s plans for voter registration and election, the retreat noted that the timeline for the implementation of this plan is very tight.”

He denies speculation by critics that INEC is absolving its self of blame if the elections fall short of expectations.

“I don’t know what they mean by saying we are seeking an extension through the back door. It is clearly stated that all legal avenues for extension will be explored,” says Idowu.

“That is not saying that a decision has been taken.”

And a delay in the elections would not affect the swearing-in, scheduled for May 2011, said Idowu.