Nigeria: Can Elections be Fair?
Earlier this week the first round of Presidential elections in Benin was completed peacefully, with results indicating the need for a runoff. Niger completed its second round, also peacefully, with opposition leader Mahamadou Issoufou winning with 58% of the vote.
Nigeria's elections, coming next month, are much more problematic, and will have wide impact not only for Nigeria but also for the region. Both Nigerian and international commentators have praised the leadership of election commissioner Attahiru Jega, a distinguished educator and pro-democracy advocate. And there will be unprecedented levels of monitoring by Nigerian civil society activists, as access to mobile phones and to the internet have both grown significantly since the last election. But the prospects for fraud and for violence are still substantial.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from a report by the International Crisis Group and an interview about the elections with Nnimmo Bassey, from the latest issue of Pambazuka News.
The April 2011 general elections - if credible and peaceful -would reverse the degeneration of the franchise since Nigeria
returned to civilian rule in 1999, yield more representative and legitimate institutions and restore faith in a democratic trajectory. Anything similar to the 2007 sham, however, could deepen the vulnerability of West Africa's largest country to conflict. International Crisis Group.
AfricaFocus Bulletin March 18, 2011