By Okey Ndiribe
The European Union (EU) has congratulated Nigerians on the successful conduct of the nearly concluded general  elections in the country.  This was contained in a statement issued by the EU’s High Representative Catherine Ashton on the conduct, process and outcome of the polls.

According to the statement, the EU hailed the “Determination of Nigerians to participate in the democratic life of their country.”

The regional body further stated that the National Assembly, Presidential, Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections of 2011 represent a significant improvement on previous years and can be considered at this stage as the most credible elections since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999.

The EU also congratulated President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the re-elected and newly elected Governors and legislators on their election and wishes them well in ensuring an inclusive agenda based on accountability to the electorate, delivery of improved governance and the pursuit of economic and social development for the nation.

“The EU looks forward to working closely with the new government and legislature, and to continue partnering with Nigeria in support of good governance, democracy and social and economic growth.

“The EU also commends the leadership of INEC, and particularly its Chairman, as well as the role of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and the security agencies in the elections.

The EU further stated  that “a number of irregularities and deficiencies were nevertheless observed during the elections, and urged INEC to swiftly assess the electoral process in order to strengthen it further and to take adequate and transparent action against any electoral offenders.”

According to the statement: “The EU condemns all acts of violence surrounding the elections and the ensuing loss of life and displacement of people. The EU encourages the Nigerian authorities to take the necessary action to protect the rights of all citizens affected and to bring to justice the perpetrators of violence.”

The EU also called on all stakeholders in the elections to respect democratic processes and to pursue any grievances peacefully and within the rule of law.

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