The leader of an observer mission at last weekend’s presidential election in Nigeria says the vote was largely free and fair. It was a significant improvement over the 2007 general elections, said Robin Carnahan of the U.S.-based National Democratic Institute [NDI], and the secretary of state of the U.S. state of Missouri. Most observers described those earlier polls as flawed.
“The presidential and National Assembly elections represent a step forward from seriously flawed elections of the past,” said the NDI in a statement. It said they hold the promise of setting a new standard for integrity in Nigeria’s electoral process.
“Our observation team went to a couple of hundred [polling stations] and there were other domestic and international observers [there],” said Carnahan. “And all of us, in the main, thought the process ran relatively smoothly. Obviously, there were imperfections in it, but it seems to [have] run smoothly.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] did a good job organizing it, she added.
“There were a number of people in our delegation that observed the elections in 2007,” Carnahan said, “and they said they felt like there was a marked difference this year. That there was a determination on the part of the Independent National Electoral Commission to run a real election, [and] a free and fair election. There was determination on the part of the Nigerian people to participate in an election that really reflected their voice.”