30 Mar 2015

Nigeria election ‘too close to call’

Nigeria’s presidential election is expected to be the closest since the 1999 poll, as the UN says Islamist group Boko Haram has been unable to disrupt the vote.

Nigerian presidential challenger Muhammadu Buhari recorded thumping majorities in key northern states on Monday, as the United States and Britain expressed concerns about meddling with the vote count.

Although the economy has been growing at 7 per cent or more, scandals over billions of dollars in missing oil receipts and the eruption of an Islamist insurgency in which thousands have died have undermined the popularity of incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan.

The results coming from states such as Rivers have prompted suspicion among diplomats, observers and the opposition, whose sympathisers took to the streets in protest.

Police fired tear gas at a crowd of 100 female supporters of Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) demonstrating outside the regional offices of the INEC election commission.

Less chaotic than previous polls

The weekend vote was marred by confusion, technical glitches, arguments and occasional violence, but in many places proved to be less chaotic than previous elections in Africa’s biggest economy and top oil producer.

At least 15 people were shot dead on polling day, most of them in the nort heast where the islamist insurgent group Boko Haram has declared war on democracy in its fight to revive a medieval caliphate in the sands of the southern Sahara.

However, the United States and Britain said that after the vote there were worrying signs of political interference in the centralised tallying of the results.