UPCOMING ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA -- (Senate - April 12, 2007)
Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I rise today to discuss the situation concerning the upcoming elections in Nigeria.
The people of Nigeria have a historic achievement within their grasp: their country's first peaceful, democratic transfer of power from one elected civilian government to another. To secure this victory for themselves and for Africa, and to retain the kind of international confidence in Nigeria's future that is essential for the country's growth, Nigerians need and deserve the strongest possible international support for free, fair, and peaceful elections on April 14 and 21.
Successful elections are not guaranteed. Political violence and serious irregularities have tarnished past polling in parts of the country, denying some Nigerians their democratic rights. No one truly interested in Nigeria's long-term stability and prosperity can accept repeats of these incidents as regular features of the country's political landscape.
There is already cause for concern this time around. Regrettably, preparations for this month's elections have been sluggish, and the independence of the electoral commission has been compromised. Important national discussions about corruption and accountability have been temporarily hijacked by elaborate preelection maneuvering.
But the Nigerian people can still succeed in exercising their democratic rights and taking control of their national destiny. The rule of law, not the wishes of the powerful, can resolve outstanding questions about the electoral process. American interests in working with a strong and democratic Nigerian partner will remain powerful regardless of who is victorious when the returns come in, which is precisely why we should use our voice now, not to favor any party or candidate, but to support Nigeria's democracy.