An electoral observation team from the European Union (EU) has described the February 2015 general elections in Nigeria as a test for the country’s democracy. Sahara Reporters revealed that, the EU team also stressed the need for electoral justice, urging Nigerian voters to remember that violence does not change the results of elections.
The chief observer of the team, Santiago Fisas, made the comments at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday. He disclosed that the observer team would be looking at the entire process over an extended period with more than 90 observers on election days.
“In my meetings with senior representatives they talked of honoring the Abuja Accord, for the elections to be peaceful,” he said. “Violence does not change results. It is also of course critical that the elections are fair, transparent and credible, and there is electoral justice. It is up to the institutions, the political parties, and the people of Nigeria to make this happen,” he added.
The EU observer also stated that the February elections are a crucial and challenging test for democracy in Nigeria, adding that the polls are important not just for Nigeria and its neighboring countries, but also for the European Union.
“We already had advance analysts here for the primaries who noted that they passed relatively peacefully, but the system is problematic with restrictions on the right to stand and therefore reduced choice for voters on election day,” said Mr. Fisas. He stated that his monitoring group plans to stay longer “as the petitions process is critical.”
According to him, the EU would “observe and analyze each component of the process, carefully considering how those competing and voting in the elections are served. We will give our preliminary assessment two days after each election day. A final report, including recommendations for future elections, will be published at a later stage. The EU EOM will always be impartial and objective and will not interfere.