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ECOWAS OBSERVERS DECLARE PRESIDENTIAL POLLS CREDIBLE

By NBF News
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THE Observer Mission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has said that it found the Saturday's election credible having satisfied far above average of international requirements for an acceptable poll.

Briefing the media last night in Abuja, the head of mission and former Liberian leader, Prof. Amos Sawyer, said: 'Having found no major incidents or irregularities, the ECOWAS Observer Mission is persuaded that the presidential election of April 16, 2011, meets the criteria of being free and transparent.'

The ECOWAS observers who monitored the elections in the six geo-political zones of the country said they were 'pleased to note the efforts by INEC to resolve some logistical and security problems encountered during the legislative elections.'  They, however, said that despite the generally massive turnout of voters,  'There were lower numbers recorded in some parts of the south,' without naming the states concerned.

Though they said the organisation of the election could be considered as generally acceptable, the mission observed some shortcomings, which it said, required 'remedial action by the authorities to further enhance the credibility of the electoral process.'

These shortcomings were highlighted yesterday by Sawyer to include: Incomplete voter registers in some polling stations, difference in the interpretation by INEC officials of procedures for concurrent accreditation and voting, the closure of a few polling stations before the official closing time, resulting in the inability of previously accredited voters to cast their votes, and the slow rate of voting in some stations mainly due to an imbalance in the ration of voters to electoral officials.

The mission also noted in a four-page report that 'in some areas, especially in the South-South (Akwa Ibom and Delta), observers were not allowed to observe the voting in the precinct at the polling stations. It is hoped that appropriate measures will be taken by INEC to avoid a repetition of this in the next tranche of the elections… similarly, the mission calls on all candidates in the presidential election to accept the outcome of the polls and where absolutely necessary, may resort to constitutional and legal channels for remedy.'

Fielding questions, Sawyer stressed: 'This is a preliminary report. Not a general certification. So, by our own assessment, the election has risen to a standard where we can say they were credible… Yet, it is not

perfect.
'The ECOWAS role is to strengthen the initiatives of member states to deepen the democratic process and consolidate democracy in our region. We know the importance of Nigeria… So, this does not mean we (Nigeria) would then rest on our laurels. We have to move from strength to strength. Can you make it better next time, so that Nigeria can help us build the democratic balance to complement our economic integration drive?'