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Nigerians should decide who wins 2019 Presidential election – EU, 24 countries

The European Union (Delegation to Nigeria) and 24 other countries say that whoever wins the 2019 Presidential elections is for the Nigerian people to decide.
They however said their concern was to see a process leading to free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections.
In an email to Apex News, the other countries that endorsed the statement are: France, Germany, United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic and Denmark.
The rest are: Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.
According to the statement “We hope to see transparent campaigns and we urge all voters to use their democratic right and vote. We are particularly keen to see greater participation of women, youth and people living with disabilities.”
It also urged all involved – political and non-political actors – to refrain from using hate speech and take a firm stance against violence.
They pointed out that the 2015 Peace Accords played an important role in that regard and welcome new efforts towards that end.
The countries noted that they are gravely concerned over widespread incidents of intimidation, interference and vote-buying during the recent gubernatorial elections as well as perturbed by irregularities and violence during party primaries and noted with particular concern that several women aspirants were disenfranchised.
The statement reiterated the importance of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as it fulfils its constitutional role.
It urged all concerned to allow INEC to operate free from outside pressure and intimidation and in turn must demonstrate full neutrality and professionalism.
“We encourage that adequate funding is swiftly facilitated for INEC and supporting institutions, and we hope to see the entry into force of improvements to the Electoral Act as soon as possible,” they explained.
Also, they drew particular attention to the fundamental role of the security agencies in providing a safe and secure environment for the Nigerian people to exercise their democratic rights.
The statement said it is vital that security agencies act, and are seen to act, in an impartial manner that maintains the high standards of professional conduct.
On the media, they advised that they strongly support the principle of media freedom and the vital role the independent media plays in ensuring informed public debate stressing the importance of balanced, neutral and non-defamatory coverage.
“At the beginning of the 2019 electoral campaign, we would like to reiterate our strong commitment to support democracy in Nigeria. We encourage Nigeria and its people to consolidate and deepen democracy, building on the standards set in 2015,” they pointed out.

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