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Observers Blast Nigeria Elections; Call for Urgent Action


International observers have condemned Nigeria's recently concluded ruling-party-dominated state, legislative and presidential elections, saying authorities failed the Nigerian people. Meanwhile, national observers and human ights activists are calling for a re-vote, and for the national assembly to take over the process. VOA's Nico Colombant reports from Abuja.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was one of the observers expressing her disappointment.

"In many places and in a number of ways the electoral process failed the Nigerian people," she said.

The head of the European Union observer mission, Max van den Berg, also offered scathing comments.

"The 2007 state and federal elections have fallen far short of basic international and regional standards for democratic elections and the process cannot be considered to be credible," he said.

Asked if there was orchestrated rigging, the top E.U. observer had this to say.

"In several places, yes, and in others, very magic results," he said.

The U.S. State Department issued a statement early Monday describing the elections as "flawed."

A group of 50,000 Nigerian election monitors, led by Innocent Chukwuma, are calling for a revote.

"We have come to the inescapable conclusion that on the whole the election was a charade. And did not meet the minimum standards required for domestic or democratic elections," said Chukwuma. "We therefore reject it and call for their cancellation."

A monitor and human rights activist, Festus Okoye, says the problems are so serious, they should be handled directly by the national assembly, rather than going through the courts.

"In several states, elections did not take place," he said. "So if elections did not take place in several states, what questions are you taking to the judiciary for them to handle? The appropriate organ to intervene in these trying times is the national assembly, because the national assembly has the overall function of lawmaking. So let them reconvene."

International observers said it is up to Nigerians to decide on what to do in the next few weeks, before all the current mandates expire at the end of next month, but agreed urgent action is needed and that every possible peaceful avenue should be pursued.

Election results from last week's state poll gave an overwhelming victory to the ruling party of President Olusegun Obasanjo and similar results are expected for the legislative poll.

The outgoing parliament denied efforts to let Mr. Obasanjo seek a third elected term. His choice as presidential successor, little known northern governor, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, was declared the winner of the presidential vote, with more than 24 million votes.

These results were announced even though no voting took place because of violence, fraud, and disorganization in many parts of Nigeria. Authorities said they did the best they could given the complexities of Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation.