News / Africa

Nigerian Election Dates Tied to Possible Reforms

Nigeria's electoral commission says the next presidential vote may be moved up if parliament approves wide-reaching reforms.

General elections in Nigeria are due in April 2011. However, election chief Maurice Iwu said Tuesday that the polls could take place in January if lawmakers pass the reforms.

Parliament is discussing changes to the electoral system in the wake of the 2007 polls, which most observers said were deeply marred by fraud, disorder and intimidation.

One idea is to hold the elections earlier, so any legal challenges can be dealt with before the transfer of power.

Challenges to President Umaru Yar'Adua's victory went on for months after he took office in May 2007.

The schedules released by Iwu Tuesday call for the presidential vote to be preceded by parliamentary and state governor elections.

President Yar'Adua's term ends in May of next year. However, the president has been incapacitated by illness since last November, and parliament recently named Vice President Goodluck Jonathan the country's acting leader.

Mr. Jonathan has not said whether he will run for president.

His decision is especially sensitive because of Nigeria's tradition of rotating the presidency between the mainly Muslim north and mainly Christian south. Mr. Yar'Adua, a Muslim, ran the country for only two and a half years before his illness effectively removed him from power.

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