Free and fair elections in Nigeria will consolidate regional peace, says EU

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  • The European Union will send more than 50 election observers to monitor the Nigerian general elections in February.
  • Free and fair elections are key to stabilising peace in West Africa.
  • Three of the 18 presidential candidates are regarded as the front runners.

Nigeria's upcoming elections will be a "consolidation of democracy" and a positive step towards regional peace, says European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.

Nigerians will elect a president, vice-president and members of the Senate and House of Representatives on 25 February.

Incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari will not run after finishing his second and last term.

At the end of this month, the EU will station 40 long-term election observers across Nigeria. They will join the core team of 11 election experts already in Abuja.

On election day, short-term observers from the EU diplomatic community as well as Canada, Norway and Switzerland will reinforce the mission.

Borrel said:

These elections will be crucial for the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria, and for the stability of the region.

The EU sent observer mission teams to Nigeria for the 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019 elections.

Borrell said the EU was hoping that next month's high-stake elections would be run smoothly and help stabilise regional security.

"The elections are set to be competitive and will take place in a challenging security context. It is our hope that Nigerians will be able to cast their vote in a peaceful environment and that any challenges or disputes will be solved through dialogue or through available legal remedies," he added.

Irish politician Barry Andrews is the leader of the EU election observer mission for the Nigerian polls. Part of his mission is to meet with electoral stakeholders, such as the candidates, electoral body and civic society.

For Andrews, the elections will have a bearing on the survival of democracy in Africa.

He said:

The mission is taking place during a period of time when democracy around the globe is in decline. The forthcoming general elections are therefore not only a key moment in Nigeria's democratic development but also important to the future of democracy in West Africa and the continent at large.

A day after the elections, the EU observer mission will produce a preliminary statement and hold a news conference in Abuja in accordance with the EU election observation procedures. After the conclusion of the entire electoral process, a final report – which will contain a list of suggestions for future elections – will be made public.

There are 18 presidential hopefuls, of which three are regarded as the front runners. They are the Labour Party's Peter Obi, a two-time governor of Anambra state; two-time Lagos State governor Bola Tinubu from the ruling All Progressives Congress; and Atiku Abubakar from the People's Democratic Party. Abubakar was vice-president of Nigeria between 1999 and 2007.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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