We favour no candidate, trust INEC to conduct credible elections: U.S. Govt

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Mary Leonard, the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, has expressed confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct free, fair and credible elections on February 25 and March 11.

“Our confidence stems in part from the signing of the Electoral Act of 2022 by President Muhammadu Buhari,” explained the American ambassador. “This key legislation strengthened Nigeria’s electoral system. For example, through the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), there are proven methods to improve transparency and drastically reduce vote tampering.”

She urged political parties to adhere to their peace commitment and the September 2022 pledge to ensure a peaceful poll, stressing that the U.S. would stand firm with Nigerian voters’ demand and desire for complete transparency and electoral integrity.

Mary Leonard reiterated that individuals who undercut or undermine the democratic process, including through violence, might be found ineligible for visas to the U.S., pointing out that the American government took steps in the past to restrict, deny or cancel visas.

“Elections are the foundation of democracy and the basis for the legitimate transfer of power. We favour no candidate; we favour open, transparent and peaceful process,” said Ms Leonard said at the 20th Daily Trust Dialogue in Abuja. “The U.S has full confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)and its ability to organise and conduct credible and transparent elections.”

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The U.S. ambassador said the media also had a vital role in ensuring that Nigerian voters had accurate news and facts before, during and after (the) election, adding that “we look to all Nigerians to speak out against the use of violence or inflammatory rhetoric.”

Ms Leonard said it was also essential that candidates, their parties and supporters do not make brash predictions of victory or instantly claim fraud if they lose at the ballot. She urged candidates and parties to accept the fundamental truth that losing was always possible.

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