West African elders call for peace, credible elections –

Joseph Inokton, Abuja

The West African Elders’ Forum (WAEF) has called for a peaceful, free and fair vote as Nigerians prepare for Saturday’s gubernatorial and state assembly elections.

The Forum also urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct elections in accordance with national electoral laws and to address the challenges identified by various stakeholders following the 25 February presidential election as a means of protecting the integrity of the electoral process.

In a statement co-signed by the Head of the WAEF 2023 Nigeria Election Delegation, former Ghanaian President John Mahama, and the Forum Convenor, former Nigerian President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the Elders further tasked security authorities with vigilance to their and responsibility. Check out the illegal activities of those trying to sabotage the election.

WAEF commended Nigerians for their peaceful character and belief in the country’s democracy, and also urged Nigerians to abide by the law and stop actions that could disrupt Saturday’s elections and threaten national and subregional peace.

The forum also commended the presidential candidates of the previous election for taking the advice of the elders, following the path of peace, and addressing the grievances that emerged in the previous election through legal means.

The statement further said:
“The Forum urges referees, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security personnel and other stakeholders to act in accordance with national laws and to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities in a manner that promotes peace and protects the integrity of the electoral process.

“Therefore, electoral bodies need to consider complaints from different stakeholders, including local and international observers, during the presidential and national assembly elections and commit to addressing these challenges.

“We reiterate our earlier statement following the presidential and national assembly elections that Nigeria is a key stakeholder in the sustainability of democracy in West Africa. The onus for maintaining a thriving democracy in the country and general peace in our subregion rests with us On the shoulders of all, especially the credibility of INEC and other electoral management bodies in West Africa during the elections.”

The full text of the statement titled “WAEF Statement Ahead of Governor and State Assembly Elections” follows:

“The West African Elders Forum (WAEF) Nigerian Elections 2023 delegation again commends Nigerians for their calm and maturity in the last Presidential and National Assembly elections and wishes to call for a fair, peaceful and transparent election week as citizens prepare to participate in the elections Six heads to the polls for the gubernatorial and state assembly elections.

“The delegation urges political parties, candidates and their supporters to fulfill their civic responsibilities within the law and to refrain from acts during and after the elections that could lead to violence and the breakdown of law and order.

“Ahead of the run-off election, we observed bad behavior by some party loyalists in some states designed to induce voter suppression by intimidating citizens and preventing them from exercising their civil rights.

“The same trend was evident during the presidential and national assembly elections three weeks ago. Citizens overcame these challenges and were able to vote, and we hope that this time, they will vote as well, to defend the country’s democracy.

The Forum urges the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security personnel and other stakeholders to act in accordance with national laws and to exercise their constitutional responsibilities in a manner that promotes peace and protects the integrity of the electoral process.

“Police must crack down on criminals who intimidate voters. This will help end impunity in Nigeria.”

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