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Nigerian government proposes electoral reforms

Nigerian government proposes electoral reforms

The Nigerian government proposed a slate of electoral reforms on Wednesday, seeking to bolster the weak voting system in Africa's most-populous nation.
The administration of ailing President Umaru Yar'Adua said the proposed changes would help ensure that voters mark ballots in secret and political parties disclose the source of their donations, among other measures.
The government said in a statement it would push for legislative action or constitutional amendments where presidential fiat alone could not ensure change, although it did not say which changes might need further action.
The government also proposed revamping the electoral commission, adding civil society members and journalists to the group's oversight body.
The April 2007 state and federal elections that saw Yar'Adua elevated to power were characterized by widespread rigging, voter intimidation and ballot-box stuffing. A European Union observer mission dismissed the election as "not credible."
Yar'Adua has admitted widespread electoral inadequacies and promised to right the electoral system put in place after civilian rulers returned to power in 1999 after years of coups d'etat, annulled elections and military dictatorships.
Yar'Adua's victory marked the first time this country of 140 million citizens has ever seen a transfer of power between civilian rulers, but Yar'Adua's mandate was weakened by the widespread view among Nigerians that his victory was illegitimate.
Many Nigerians failed to vote because of late-arriving ballot materials, while thugs threatened others voting at open stations where onlookers could view their selections. Voting papers were openly purchased, while ballot boxes were stolen or stuffed in public.
Yar'Adua suffers from kidney problems and has spent long stretches outside Nigeria for medical treatment, and many Nigerians consider him a weak leader due to his health problems combined with his contemplative and soft-spoken style.
The next federal elections are scheduled for 2011, but many Nigerians fear a power vacuum if Yar'Adua were to leave office before his term is up.
Nigeria, which is Africa's biggest oil producer, gained independence from Britain in 1960.


Updated : 2021-04-14 07:28 GMT+08:00