Nigeria polls offer hope for Africa: UN chief

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ABUJA, May 24 (Xinhua) — UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon hails the presidential elections in Nigeria, saying the country’s present democracy has offered bright hope for the rest of Africa.

Ban made the remarks on Monday during a meeting with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chief, Attahiru Jega, in Abuja.

He described the 2011 general elections as largely credible and commendable, urging political parties that had issues with the elections to seek redress through the judicial system.

“Whatever the complaints or allegations have been received should be thoroughly and transparently processed through the judicial system,” Ban said.

“What is most important is that there needs to be some firm belief among the people that democracy and all its principles come from ballot boxes, not from violence on the streets,” he added.

“This is what we have to educate the people about,” he said.

He regretted the violence that trailed the April polls in some areas of the country.

The UN chief expressed condolence to relations of those who died in the post-election violence.

Ban canvassed intensive civic education by relevant authorities to acquaint Nigerians with fundamental procedures and principles of democracy.

“I know that there is cultural unity, but national unity is important for your country,” he told Jega.

“I notice that you have the largest population in Africa, even though the size is not the biggest; but in terms of population, you have the largest in Africa,” he said.

According to Ban, the UN was eager to work with INEC to promote participatory democracy in Nigeria. Earlier, Jega reassured that INEC was committed to serving as an unbiased umpire for achieving genuine democracy in the country.

He acknowledged the many challenges that confronted the commission during the recent polls.

Jega said INEC did its best to deliver elections that were far more credible than what the country had experienced before.

The INEC boss lauded the UN for its support, particularly through its role in the Joint Donor Basket.

“We received tremendous support and encouragement, and that kind of support really inspired us to be able to do the few things we have done,” he said.

Jega said INEC viewed the post-election violence as a tragic and an unwarranted incident.

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