World Nobel laureates reject outcome of April elections

  • Wednesday, May 23, 2007 - By TOPE ADEBOBOYE
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Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka
 Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka
Nobel laureates from across the world on Tuesday joined the growing chorus of critics of the last general elections. They called for the conduct of fresh polls within 18 months. Also, they advocated a conference of national unity, comprising government officials, civil society groups as well as religious and business leaders to suggest a way out of the current political crisis in the country.

A statement issued by the New York-based The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, and signed by 48 of the Nobel Prize winners, observed that the new government expected to be headed by Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua might lack legitimacy, a phenomenon that might encourage violent conflict with serious consequences for Nigeria and the entire region.

"Therefore we recommend a conference of national unity involving government officials, civil society, religious and business leaders to discuss the current crisis and set a date, within 18 months, for early elections, along with electoral reform," said the laureates, who said that their suggestion was to assist in consolidating Nigeria’s transition to democracy after decades of military dictatorship.

While explaining that their recommendation was made without prejudice to potential legal recourse by aggrieved candidates, the Nobel Prize winners stressed the importance of a credible enquiry into the electoral process, which it said "has undermined the confidence of Nigerians in constitutionalism and the rule of law."

Among the Nobel laureates that signed the statement were Peter J. Agre, Kenneth J. Arrow, Richard Axel, Baruj Benacerraf, Thomas R. Cech, Steven Chu, Aaron Ciechanover, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, John M. Coetzee, Robert F. Curl Jr., The Dalai Lama, Johann Deisenhofer, Richard R. Ernst, John B. Fenn, Edmond H. Fischer and Jerome I. Friedman.

The signatories also included Sheldon L. Glashow, Roy J. Glauber, Clive W. J. Granger, David J. Gross, Dudley R. Herschbach, Avram Hershko, Roald Hoffmann, Eric R. Kandel, Sir Harold W. Kroto, Finn E. Kydland, Yuan T. Lee, Anthony J. Leggett, Jean-Marie Lehn, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Craig C. Mello and Robert A. Mundell.

Also on the list are Ferid Murad, Erwin Neher, Marshall W. Nirenberg Douglas D. Osheroff, Stanley Prusiner, Burton Richter, Richard J. Roberts, Jens C. Skou, Wole Soyinka, Joseph H. Taylor, Jr., Desmond Tutu, Klaus von Klitzing, Elie Wiesel, Frank Wilczek, Betty Williams and Kurt Wuthrich.

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