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EU Observers Express Encouragement at Nigeria’s Legislative Elections

Voters and party agents recording election results at a polling station in Abuja, Nigeria's capital
Voters and party agents recording election results at a polling station in Abuja, Nigeria's capital

The head of the European Union Election Observation Mission said the weekend legislative elections in Nigeria represented a positive step in the country’s fledgling democracy.

Alojz Peterle said his group found the overall conduct of the election encouraging.

“This election was done in a good atmosphere. It is important that generally, the atmosphere was peaceful and that a majority of the polling stations were operational,” he said.

But the process was not without its hiccups, said Peterle, noting areas he says need improvement.

“We observed some problems with the voter register then some inconsistencies in implementation of the electoral procedure. We also saw underage voting…and a lack of display of results at different levels. We are particularly sensitive to these elements of election process, which could influence the final outcome,” he said.

The chief observer said he hopes the peaceful atmosphere that prevailed during the legislative elections is maintained to instill “continued trust” in the electoral process.

“Of course the presidential elections are considered to be more important. But, if what we saw on Saturday is the basis for expectations, then we will wish that this peaceful atmosphere is maintained” he said.

Peterle said his team and international counterparts have requested to meet with INEC chairman Attahiru Jega.

INEC spokesman Nick Dazan says the electoral body will continue to improve the electoral processes for this week’s presidential vote as well as future elections.

Partial results from Saturday’s legislative elections indicate the ruling People’s Democratic Party has lost ground in parliament. It’s still on track to control a majority of both the Senate and House of Representatives, albeit with smaller margins.