ICC stern on Nige­rian poll

Lesotho Times - - Africa -

LA­GOS — Nige­ria’s lead­ers must not whip up vi­o­lence around a pres­i­den­tial poll on 14 Fe­bru­ary that has al­ready trig­gered deadly skir­mishes, the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC) said on Mon­day.

Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan, a Chris­tian from the south, faces chal­lenger Muham­madu Buhari, a north­ern Mus­lim, in an at­mos­phere of height­ened re­gional, eth­nic and sec­tar­ian ten­sions that many fear could to boil over into wide­spread vi­o­lence.

The elec­tion is ex­pected to be the most closely con­tested since the end of mil­i­tary rule in 1999.

“Ex­pe­ri­ence has shown that elec­toral com­pe­ti­tion, when gone astray, can give rise to vi­o­lence and ... even trig­ger the com­mis­sion of mass crimes,” the ICC’S Fa­tou Ben­souda said.

“Any per­son who in­cites or en­gages in acts of vi­o­lence in­clud­ing by order­ing, re­quest­ing, en­cour­ag­ing ... crimes within ICC’S ju­ris­dic­tion is li­able to pros­e­cu­tion,” she said in a state­ment.

Around 800 peo­ple were killed and 65 000 dis­placed in three days of ri­ot­ing in the largely Mus­lim north af­ter Buhari lost to Jonathan in 2011.

The ICC has been look­ing into pos­si­ble war crimes in Nige­ria since 2010, but few be­lieve it would be keen to take on an­other pow­er­ful politi­cian af­ter be­ing forced to drop charges re­lated to 2007 elec­toral vi­o­lence against Kenyan Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta in De­cem­ber.

Sup­port­ers of Mr Buhari’s All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC) and the rul­ing Peo­ple’s Demo­cratic Party (PDP) have al­ready clashed in street bat­tles that have killed sev­eral peo­ple.

Rhetoric has also been heated, with one PDP gover­nor urg­ing his sup­port­ers to crush APC “cock­roaches”, in a chill­ing echo of the Rwan­dan geno­cide. The APC has threat­ened to set up a par­al­lel gov­ern­ment if the elec­tion is not fair.

Is­lamist mil­i­tant group Boko Haram, which re­gards democ­racy as un-is­lamic, is ex­pected to dis­rupt the vot­ing for both sides in the ar­eas of the north­east where it op­er­ates.

A deadly car bomb went off near a sta­dium in the north­east­ern Nige­rian city of Gombe on Mon­day, a few min­utes af­ter Jonathan left a party rally there. — Reuters

Nige­ria’s Pres­i­dent good­luck Jonathan (front cen­tre) waves at sup­port­ers dur­ing a pres­i­den­tial rally in Cal­abar, Nige­ria.

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