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April polls: We ‘ve no preferred candidate – US govt

 BY HENRY UMORU

ABUJA-THE United States government warned yesterday that if cases of electoral violence across the country were not checked and addressed, next month’s elections may be marred by violence, stressing that it had no support for any particular candidate and had no plans of doing so.

Speaking yesterday at a conference on non-violence and peaceful elections organised by Youth Action Initiative Africa, YAIA, in collaboration with National Endowment for Democracy, NED, the US Embassy representative, Max Kendrick, said what the US government did was only to support the process of elections and institutions and not personalities who are contesting for the positions.

Kendrick, who is the Political-Military Affairs Officer, U.S. Embassy, Abuja said: “The U.S. government does not support any candidate, it supports the process and institutions.  “Electoral violence that threatens to undermine the process and democratic institutions must be avoided.”

According to the US government, Nigerian politicians must note that democracy is all about upholding principles that are greater than any individual person and respecting the will of the people who confer democratic legitimacy.

He added that democracy was more than a formal counting of votes, and that both Nigerians and the international community would judge the quality of the election by more than what happened on election day.

He said: “Democracy is also about the freedom of all parties to campaign, meet with supporters, appeal to new voters and deliver political messages to the electorate, doing so without the threat of violence or intimidation. Democracy is about sharing ideas and stimulating open public discussion on the future of one’s country.

‘’The Nigerian government is not solely responsible for the success of your elections. Representative and accountable government can only occur when citizens empower themselves by participating fully and actively in the democratic process, ensuring that their votes count.

“Only Nigerians, by their vote and their commitment to democracy, can ensure that the 2011 elections are truly free, fair and transparent.”

On the youth and what was expected of them, Kendrick said: “You represent the majority in this country, and you all have individual decisions to make about where you want to be in the next five to ten years.”


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