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US Calls Nigerian Election Deeply Flawed


The United States says initial assessments are that the Nigerian presidential election was deeply flawed. The State Department expressed hope electoral disputes arising from Saturday's voting are resolved peacefully according to Nigerian law. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

The State Department says U.S. officials are still in the process of gathering up and analyzing reports from election monitors.

But spokesman Sean McCormack says it is already evident the process was flawed, and in some cases deeply flawed, and that the U.S. hope now is that election disputes can be resolved without violence through procedures provided for under the Nigerian constitution.

Nigerian ruling party candidate Umaru Yar' Adua has been declared winner of the presidential vote. But international and local election observers reported widespread irregularities, including ballot box stuffing and voter intimidation by security forces, and opposition parties saying they reject the results.

In a talk with reporters, McCormack said Nigerian voters should be applauded for their participation in the democratic process, but the process really didn't meet the hopes, standards and expectations the Nigerian people had.

The spokesman said there were some positive aspects to be noted including the role of the Nigerian courts and parliament in the run-up to the voting. He said challenges to the election should proceed according to the law.

"I assume that there are going to be a number of different court challenges, and there's going to be a constitutional process that need to be followed regarding investigation and remediation of any of the flaws in the electoral process. So what we would like to see happen is that the process unfold in a manner consistent with the constitution and laws of Nigeria. And if there are any dispute about the elections or election day, that those disputes be resolved in a peaceful manner through the legal mechanisms provided by the Nigerian constitution," he said.

Though stressing the flawed nature of the voting, McCormack declined to say the election should be annulled or re-run, saying those are decisions for Nigerians to make.

U.S. national security council spokesman Gordon Johndroe had similar remarks, saying the White House is deeply troubled by the violence that accompanied the election process, and hopeful all sides refrain from further violence as they try to resolve election issues.

European Union observers say at least 200 people were killed in election related violence in the two-stage voting process, including the April 14th voting for state governors and legislators.

The United States provided about $15 million in aid over the last three years to support the Nigerian election infrastructure and it sponsored about 200 election monitors.