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ECOWAS chairman Mahama appeals for peaceful elections in Nigeria

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The Chairman of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama has called for peaceful, free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.
“Nigeria’s safety and security is the safety and security of our region,” the Chairman said in a message of solidarity and support for Nigeria, which he repeated during separate meetings with key Nigerian political stakeholders in Abuja on Monday 23rd March 2015.
 
The ECOWAS chairman was received by and later held talks with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, the presidential candidate of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at the Presidential Lounge of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, in the first of the series of meetings.
Accompanied by the President of the ECOWAS Commission H.E Kadré Desire Ouédraogo, Vice President Dr. Toga Gayewea McIntosh, and the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs. Salamatu Husseini Suleiman, and the Director of Political Affairs. Dr. Remi Ajibewa, the ECOWAS chairman also met at the Nicon Hilton Hotel with the Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, and later with Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd)., the presidential candidate of the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC), also at the Presidential Lounge.
 
During the meetings, President Mahama underscored the need for a peaceful electoral process in Nigeria, saying that “Nigeria is not only an important member of ECOWAS, but also the biggest economy and the most populous nation in Africa.”
He appealed for calm to enable “Nigerians cast their votes in peace and ensure that their votes count,” while urging political parties and their candidates to respect the peace pact they signed and also accept the poll results in good faith.
 
“We do not expect any post-election violence,” the ECOWAS chairman said, adding that ECOWAS, which already has Long-term Observers on ground, “will continue to monitor the situation and support Nigeria ‘to ensure that the electoral process is free, fair credible and transparent.”
 
He expressed the hope that Nigeria should get it right, so that four other ECOWAS Member States holding elections this year can take a cue from the success for the deepening democracy in the region.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Jega, reassured the ECOWAS chairman that the Commission had made necessary preparations to ensure free, fair, transparent and credible elections on March 28 and April 11, acknowledging that the Commission had taken full advantage of the six-week postponement of the polls.
 
He also expressed gratitude to ECOWAS and the Commission for their support to INEC, promising that Nigeria’s 2015 polls would be better organized than the previous ones in the country.
President Ouédraogo underlined the importance of the ECOWAS Chairman’s solidarity visit to Nigeria as “a very important country in our region and Africa.”
 
“There is the need for all political actors to avoid hate-speech or any acts that could engender violence,” he said, stressing that “even where there are issues, there should only be recourse to legal, constitutional means for remedy.”
 
As part of his consultations, the ECOWAS Chairman also received in audience on Monday before his departure, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative and Head of the UN Office in West Africa (UNOWA), Head of African Union (AU) Election Observation Mission to Nigeria, former Liberian leader Prof. Amos Sawyer, and Head of the Commonwealth Election Observers, former Malawi President Bakili Muluzi.
 
Nigeria’s nearly 70 million registered voters in the country of some 170 million people, go to the polls on March 28 and April 11 to elect a President, National Legislators, Governors and State Assembly Members, in the fifth general elections since the country returned to democracy in 1999 after a prolonged military rule.
The 2015 polls have generated heighted international interests with security concerns in the north east of the country because of Boko Haram insurgency.

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