The two leading political opposition parties yesterday denounced the conduct of Nigeria's presidential elections, and one said it would likely launch a court challenge to the vote.
Turnout appeared low for Saturday's presidential vote, which was marked by ballot-paper shortages in opposition strongholds, intimidation by thugs and open rigging favoring the ruling party of outgoing Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Neither of the two main opposition parties rejected the vote outright, saying they were waiting for full information from around the vast nation, but they described the exercise in disparaging terms.
"Some voting has taken place, but there was no election," said Abba Kyari, a spokesman for the party of General Muhammadu Buhari, considered one of the two top opposition candidates.
A spokesman for the party of Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who fell out with Obasanjo last year and is contesting the presidency as an opposition candidate, said the party would very likely challenge the results in court.
Saturday's vote "could not be termed free and fair by any imagination. We believe a lot of rigging has been done," Lai Mohammed said.
Electoral Commission Chairman Maurice Iwu on Saturday acknowledged some problems with the vote, including in a large swathe of the country's southeast, where voting started late or not at all. But he said the election had "gone smoothly, despite some problems."
Obasanjo on Saturday hailed the vote as a major step forward for democracy in Nigeria.
Despite disorder and confusion at many voting centers, there were few immediate reports of the widescale violence that plagued the electoral period, raising hopes that power could be transferred from one elected civilian president to another for the first time in the coup-prone 47-year history of Africa's top oil producer.
But an outright rejection of the election by the opposition could undermine any ruling party win.
Nigeria's mass daily Vanguard newspaper reported that 16 policemen died during Saturday's vote, including seven in a traffic accident. A week earlier, during a vote for state officers, Nigerian newspapers reported up to 50 dead in violence.
Competition for government revenues flowing from the oil industry means Nigerian political seats are hotly -- and often violently -- contested.
Dozens died in the run-up to the presidential and national parliamentary vote and violence continued in the pre-dawn hours on Saturday, with a failed truck bombing at the gates of the electoral commission headquarters in Abuja.
Many voting centers opened well after the official start, if at all, and those that did were plagued by delays and what the opposition described as irregularities. Polling hours were 10am to 5pm, but those still in line at 5pm were allowed to vote.
Presidential ballots distributed on Saturday in many parts of the country lacked serial numbers or any other unique distinguishing marks that would guard against fraud by allowing officials to track the papers from ballot boxes through collation centers.
Iwu said there had been no time to print serialized ballots as one candidate had to be added this week.
In the main city of Lagos, some polling centers in opposition strongholds had only a fraction of the ballot papers needed, sparking accusations that their vote was being suppressed. In some parts of Lagos, voting material for the national legislature didn't show up at all and voting was postponed.
Last week, the Supreme Court overruled an electoral commission decision that had barred Abubakar from the race on corruption charges. The vice president, running as an opposition leader, denies the charges, which emanated from the president. Adding Abubakar's name to the ballots was a last-minute logistical hurdle; some of the millions of ballots were still arriving in the country on Friday.
Electoral officials said they hoped to release results by late today.
The presidential winner must gain the most votes nationwide and at least a quarter of ballots cast in 24 of Nigeria's 36 states. If not, a runoff election would be held within one month.
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
BRIBERY CASE: President Tsai Ing-wen accepted Su Jia-chyuan’s resignation as he said that he deeply regretted causing trouble for the president due to the investigation Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) yesterday resigned after his nephew, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清), was implicated in a bribery case related to a dispute over the ownership of Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨). “I resigned from the post so that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would not be bothered by it anymore, and the prosecutors can investigate the case in a fair and just manner. I thank President Tsai once again for supporting me. May the country continue to prosper under her leadership,” Su Jia-chyuan said in a statement. The Presidential Office said that Tsai has accepted
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South