Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Fix problems of February 23 elections to restore people’s confidence in future polls, British Envoy tells INEC

Fix problems of February 23 elections to restore people’s confidence in future polls, British Envoy tells INEC

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to address logistics issues associated with the February 23 elections, to restore people’s confidence in future polls.

Laing said this in an interview on Friday in Abuja, at the side-line of events to mark the 2019 International Women Day.

“We’ve been tracking very carefully the parallel vote tabulation and we were happy to see that their results are in line with the INEC conclusion of the Presidential election.

“There were clearly many challenges in the elections, particularly logistical challenges, there were also problems with the collation of the votes.

“There were examples of voter intimidation and violence; and sadly some people lost their lives around these elections.

“So, we also want INEC and the government to now urgently work on addressing many shortcomings of this election.

She commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s plan to investigate the issues that led to INEC’s postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections by one week.

She however, said the investigation should be extended to issues raised on the conduct of the last elections, adding that membership of the panel should be extended to the opposition to restore confidence.

“The President himself announced after the delay that he wants to set up an investigation as to what had gone wrong, we think that’s good starting point.

“And what we will encourage is that that investigation is expanded wider than just the issues around that one week delay, but actually it depicts the wider shortcomings in this election.

“And, we will also encourage them to include the opposition in the investigation.

“The opposition as you know have indicated they are going to pursue a legal challenge, which is absolutely within their right.

“If there is a serious investigation on all range of issues that had affected this election, including the opposition’s rights, that will be a good way to give people confidence that the government is serious about addressing some of the issues.”

The Envoy said that conflicts associated with elections required peaceful resolution and therefore advised the Federal Government to take necessary steps using dialogue to resolve issues arising from the elections.

She, however, advised all stakeholders in electoral process to ensure that their constitutional roles were effectively carried out, to promote democratic growth in the country.

Laing, former British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, was appointed High Commissioner to Nigeria in November 2018 succeeding Paul Arkwright.

The International Women Day celebrated globally on March 8 with the theme “balance for better” sought to raise awareness against gender bias, take action for equality and promote women’s achievement.

The Day is also designed to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, to mark action for acceleration of gender parity.

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