Concerned that Nigeria could face postelection turmoil, Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday urged President Goodluck Jonathan and his principal political rival to respect the results of next month’s presidential vote and to discourage their supporters from carrying out violent protests. “It is imperative that these elections happen on time, as scheduled, and that they are an improvement over past elections,” Mr. Kerry said in a news conference at the end of his visit here. But a major attack by Boko Haram militants on Sunday in Maiduguri, a major city in northeastern Nigeria, demonstrated the challenge that confronts the Obama administration as it tries to develop a strategy to help stabilize the strategically important nation. Mr. Kerry said there was evidence that the militants from the Islamic State group, which has declared a caliphate in eastern Syria and northern and western Iraq, were now making an effort to forge alliances with terrorist groups in Africa.
“It is obviously a concern that they may try more aggressively to try to spread to countries in center and southern and other parts of Africa,” said Mr. Kerry, who added that there was no indication as yet that Boko Haram has formally affiliated itself with the Islamic State.
Mr. Kerry said that the United States was prepared to do more to help the Nigerian military’s fight against Boko Haram, an Islamist group that does have links to Al Qaeda. But underscoring his larger point, Mr. Kerry warned that the level of American support would be influenced by the determination of Nigeria’s politicians to carry out fair and peaceful elections.
“Bottom line, we want to do more,” he said. “But our ability to do more will depend to some degree on the full measure of credibility, accountability, transparency and peacefulness of this election.”