Nigeria postpones vote amid Boko Haram violence

2015-02-07 16:06
A Boko Haram flag flutters from an abandoned command post in Gamboru deserted after Chadian troops chased them from the border town. (Stephane Yas, AFP)

A Boko Haram flag flutters from an abandoned command post in Gamboru deserted after Chadian troops chased them from the border town. (Stephane Yas, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Dakar - Nigeria's electoral commission will postpone the 14 February presidential and legislative elections for six weeks to give a new multinational force time to secure north-eastern areas under the sway of Boko Haram, an official close to the commission told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Millions could be disenfranchised if the voting went ahead while the Islamic extremists hold a large swath of the northeast and commit mayhem that has driven 1.5 million people from their homes.

The Nigerian official, who is knowledgeable of the discussions, said the Independent National Electoral Commission will announce the postponement later. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

A major offensive with warplanes and ground troops from Chad and Nigeria already has forced the insurgents from a dozen towns and villages in the past 10 days. Even greater military strikes by more countries are planned.

African Union officials and representatives of countries supporting the initiative were ending a three-day meeting on Saturday in Yaounde, Cameroon's capital, to finalise details of a 7 500-strong force from Nigeria and its neighbours Chad, Cameroon, Benin and Niger. Details of funding, with the Africans wanting the UN and EU to pay, may delay the mission.

International concern

Nigeria's home-grown extremist group has responded with attacks on one town in Cameroon and two in Niger this week. Officials said more than 100 civilians were killed and 500 wounded in Cameroon. Niger said about 100 insurgents and one civilian died in attacks Friday. Several security forces from both countries were killed.

International concern has increased along with the death toll: Some 10 000 killed in the uprising in the past year compared to 2 000 in the four previous years, according to the US Council on Foreign Relations.

Officials in President Goodluck Jonathan's administration have supported postponing the 14 February vote.

Any delay is opposed by an opposition coalition fielding former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari, though the opposition stands to take most votes in the northeast.

Supporters of both sides are threatening violence if their candidate does not win. Some 800 people were killed in riots in the mainly Muslim north after Buhari, a Muslim, lost 2011 elections to Jonathan, a Christian from the south.

Analysts say the vote is too close to call, the most tightly contested election since decades of military dictatorship ended in 1999.

Jonathan's party has won every election since then but the failure of the military to curb the five year Islamic uprising, growing corruption and an economy hit by halved oil prices have hurt the president of Africa's biggest oil producer and most populous nation of about 170 million.

A postponement also will give electoral officials more time to deliver some 30 million voter cards. The commission had said the non-delivery of cards to nearly half of the 68.8 million registered voters was not a good reason to delay the vote.

Read more on:    nigeria  |  west africa  |  security

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
23 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.