Jonathan Cohen
Jonathan Cohen

The United States said Saturday that Nigeria’s upcoming national elections will be a critical test of democracy in the country and deeply concerned by the impact of the executive branch’s decision to suspend and replace the Chief Justice and head of the judicial branch without the support of the legislative branch on the eve of national and state elections.

In a statement by the US Embassy in Nigeria, ” We note widespread Nigerian criticism that this decision is unconstitutional and that it undermines the independence of the judicial branch. That undercuts the stated determination of government, candidates, and political party leaders to ensure that the elections proceed in a way that is free, fair, transparent, and peaceful – leading to a credible result.

We urge that the issues raised by this decision be resolved swiftly and peacefully in accordance with due process, full respect for the rule of law, and the spirit of the Constitution of Nigeria. Such action is needed urgently now to ensure that this decision does not cast a pall over the electoral process.”

Last week, U.S. deputy ambassador Jonathan Cohen told a U.N. Security Council meeting on West Africa that the Trump administration is also concerned about heightened insecurity in Nigeria, the inability of disabled and displaced people to vote, “and the risk that widespread vote buying could challenge the integrity of the electoral process.”

He expressed concern at reports of intimidation and partisanship by government security forces.

Cohen said the United States continues to support Nigeria’s goal of free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections “that reflect the will of the Nigerian people.”

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