Just Hours Before Nation's Election, a Postponement

Voting for Nigerian president put off till next Saturday due to unspecified 'challenges'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 16, 2019 8:00 AM CST
Nigerians Wake Up on Day of Election, Find It Postponed
Nigerians check voters lists at a polling station in Kaduna, Nigeria, on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Nigerians have awakened to find the presidential election delayed until Feb. 23, a week from Saturday, per the AP. In an early-morning statement, the electoral commission cited unspecified "challenges" and said it would give more details Saturday afternoon. Some bitter voters in the capital, Abuja, and elsewhere who traveled home to cast their ballots say they can't afford to wait another seven days. The country's top two political parties condemn the last-minute postponement. A spokesman for top opposition challenger Atiku Abubakar says the electoral commission "has destroyed the soul of Nigeria with this act." Abubakar is set to speak to reporters later Saturday. Meanwhile, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari says he's "deeply disappointed" by the delay and that he's going back to the capital to hear the commission's explanation.

Buhari's statement says the commission had "given assurances, day after day and almost hour after hour that they are in complete readiness for the elections. We and all our citizens believed them." His statement also appeals to Nigerians for calm, urges the commission to protect already distributed voting materials, and stresses that his administration doesn't interfere in the commission's work. The Situation Room civic group monitoring the election says the last-minute decision to postpone the vote "has created needless tension and confusion in the country." The group's statement expressed shock and disappointment after assurances by the electoral commission that "everything was ready." It said the delay casts a "cloud of doubt" on the body's credibility and competence. The group also called on the electoral commission to explain how Nigeria will pay for the costly election delay. (Read more Nigeria stories.)

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