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US threatens to withdraw support for April polls

Posted by By IKE NNAMDI, Washington DC on 2007/02/23 | Views: 2549 |

US threatens to withdraw support for April polls


The United States has threatened to withdraw its "financial, moral and material support" for the April elections, if President Olusegun Obasanjo does not stop "using the institutions of government to coerce opponents of his government."

The United States has threatened to withdraw its "financial, moral and material support" for the April elections, if President Olusegun Obasanjo does not stop "using the institutions of government to coerce opponents of his government."

Handing down the threat, chairman of the influential United Senate Committee on the Nigerian Election, Sen. Ross Finegold, who spoke during a visit to Capitol Hill by former Anambra State governor, Dr. Chris Ngige, expressed disappointment at the actions of Obasanjo, which he said, puts to questions his sincerity in conducting credible and fair elections.

Senator Finegold also accused the government of being selective in the application of the law, wondering why Abuja had constantly disobeyed court orders, including the recent indictment of some ruling party candidates by an administrative panel set up by the Abia State government.

"Being a federation, that panel has the same force of law as the one which the government is relying on to allegedly bar mostly opposition candidates from the poll," he stated.
He said joint Senate and House committees will meet soon on what he called "clearly deteriorating political situation in Nigeria to take further steps to hold the Nigerian government accountable for any crisis that might result from the elections."

Senator Finegold tasked Abuja to guarantee the safety of opposition candidates, especially Gov. Ngige, adding: "As one of the governors who was attacked by some thugs shielded by the government, the authorities must ensure that no harm comes to him as he exercises his rights to run for public office."
International human rights watchdog, Amnesty International has also accused the government of "condoning several attacks on opponents of President Obasanjo.
The group said it was disturbed that government had not arrested several supporters of the ruling party who have attacked opposition candidates.

"Those who attacked Governor Ngige had not been arrested and we fear they may try again as he makes plans to return home. We call on the government to guarantee his safety," the group said during a Washington meeting with Ngige.
Ngige is also scheduled to meet with top officials of the State Department before returning to Nigeria as the governorship candidate for the Action Congress (AC) in Anambra State.

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