During his January 25 visit to Nigeria, US Secretary of State John Kerry urged citizens and officials to fight back against Boko Haram and said, ‘It’s imperative that these elections happen on time as scheduled.’ It does not appear the elections will proceed as scheduled.
Today, the Associated Press announced Nigeria’s electoral commission is postponing presidential and legislative elections for six weeks to stabilize and secure northeastern areas of the country under the sway of Boko Haram. The al-Qaida-linked insurgency has reportedly killed over 8,000 citizens since 2011 according to The Council on Foreign Relations in New York. In April 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped 270 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok, prompting international denunciation a ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign.
Some supporters of both current Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and his primary challenger Muhammadu Buhari have threatened violence if the elections were postponed. The threats came in the midst of the biggest offensive against Boko Haram in its more than five-year history. Military forces from Chad, Cameroon, and Nigeria have combined to fight Boko Haram. Officials tell the AP the postponement will provide more time to deliver voter cards to nearly half of Nigeria’s estimated 68.8 million registered voters and allow for the relocation of nearly 1.5 million disenfranchised voters driven from their homes amid Boko Haram violence.
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