Opposition wants Nigerian vote annulled
The top opposition leader in Nigeria's presidential election wants Saturday's vote to be annulled, after he claimed that the ruling party corrupted and skewed the election, according to an Associated Press article (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/world/4737682.html).
Vice President Atiku Abubaka, who recently had a falling out with President Obasanjo, said it was the worst election Nigeria had ever seen. He called for the results to be rejected and for a new vote to be held.
The national Electoral Comission Chairman Maurice Iwu said the was free and fair and defended it's legitmacy.
However, The Transition Monitoring Group, an independent election monitoring group and the largest in Nigeria, called for the election to be annulled, saying voting hadn't even taken place in many of the Nigeria's 36 states.
Local reporters witnessed that many polls ran out of ballots, didn't ever recieve ballots. There were also reports of intimidation at polling places by thugs with guns. Many of the places that experienced these problems were in oppostion strongholds.
The other opposition leader, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, said that no election had taken place.
Election officials said the hoped to announce the results Monday.
According to a BBC story, Obasanjo is stepping down from the presidency and his ruling party, the People's Democratic Party, had chosen Umaru Yar'Adua to replace him (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6581993.stm).
There was also an attempt to blow up the election headquarters. Policemen were killed in one state while escorting election officials. Some armed men stole election ballot boxes in another state.
The new government willl take power on May 29th, and if elections aren't regulated, some believe that upset opposition parties could incite violence and create a power struggle.
I found it interesting that each of these articles focused on different aspects of the election fraud. The AP story downplayed the violence, instead focusing on the ballots showing up late at polling places or certain names not being on the ballot. The BBC story played up the violence, giving several examples of officials and civilians being killed in armed struggles. I think the BBC story did a slightly better job getting a complete view of the election problems. The descriptions of violence give the reader a more visceral idea of how corrupt the elections were. One problem I had with both stories is that they neglected to develop some political and historical context. For example, why is Obasanjo stepping down? What are his policies? Why did Abubakar fall out with the ruling party? Is violence common in Nigerian elections? The narrow focus of each story, which want just to look at the specific problems of this election, doesn't help the reader see the systemic influence of corruption on the society and on the fabric of democracy.