Doubts increase in Nigeria over planned presidential poll

February 7, 2015 1:40 pm

– Violence fears –

President Goodluck Jonathan, battered by criticism over his handling of the Boko Haram crisis, corruption and the economy, is seeking a second four-year term of office.

But seven days out, the result is seen as too close to call, even if Muhammadu Buhari, the main opposition candidate and former military ruler, has predicted he will secure a “landslide victory”.

Dawn Dimowo, from the africapractice consulting firm, said on Friday that any delay “could lead to enhanced stability” and allow logistical problems with voting to be resolved.

But it could prompt a violent reaction from angered opposition supporters, who are hoping to inflict a defeat on the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the first time in 16 years.

In 2011, some 1,000 people were killed in post-poll rioting. This year Boko Haram’s control of territory in three northeast states has made voting impossible for hundreds of thousands of people.

Since the turn of the year, the militant group has increased the intensity of its campaign, in part to further undermine the democratic process, which it views as un-Islamic.

Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) party has already said the overall result will be in doubt if displaced people in its northeastern stronghold are disenfranchised.

Commentators have already raised the prospect of a legal challenge from either side after the result and even a run-off, which would also likely inflame tensions.

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