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Inside Africa

AU to keep a close eye on Nigerian and Senegal polls

The African Union (AU) said on Thursday that its election observers would provide an accurate and impartial reporting and assessment of the quality of the elections in Nigeria and Senegal, slated for Feb. 23 and 24 respectively.

As the two western African countries gear up to undertake an impartial election later this week, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahatma, “has authorized the deployment of African Union Election Observation Missions to the two countries”, an AU statement said on Thursday.

Nigeria is scheduled to hold Presidential and National Assembly Elections on Feb. 23, which will be followed governorship, State House of Assembly and Area Council Elections on March 9.

Another West African country, Senegal, will also hold Presidential Election on Feb. 24.

According to the AU, the objectives of its election observation missions in the two west African countries is mainly to provide an accurate and impartial reporting or assessment of the quality of elections in Nigeria and Senegal, including “the degree to which the conduct of the elections meets regional, continental and international standards for democratic elections.”

The pan African bloc’s election observers are also expected to offer recommendations for improvement of future elections based on the findings, as well as to demonstrate AU’s interest to support Nigeria and Senegal’s elections and democratization processes, the statement noted.

The AU Electoral Observation Mission to Nigeria’s upcoming general elections comprises 50 members, led by former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, while the mission in Senegal is led by the former Prime Minister of Chad, Albert Pahimi Padacke, according to the AU.

AU had previously indicated that since its observers’ deployment in Nigeria, Desalegn has been receiving updates from various stakeholders including political parties, the electoral commission, civil society, government officials and other observer groups.

The AU delegation to Nigeria – Africa’s most populous country with a population of about 198 million – also includes the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs Minata Samate Cessouma and other high-profile personalities, according to the AU.

The deployment of the delegation to Nigeria followed an invitation by the Nigerian government and the West African country’s electoral commission, and as part of the AU’s mandate and commitment to supporting credible, transparent and inclusive electoral processes across the continent, the AU had said.

Just hours before the opening of polls scheduled on Feb. 16, Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission announced a one-week delay in polling, citing logistical issues. Enditem

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