AU calls for calm in Nigeria after poll postponement

ADDIS ABABA – The African Union has called for calm following a decision by Nigerian authorities to postpone presidential elections, originally scheduled for Feb. 14, by six weeks.

In a statement, Chairperson of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma urged the Nigerian people and political actors to respect the decision made by the country's Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the presidential polls to March 28.

Dlamini-Zuma "calls on all national, regional and international stakeholders to lend maximum cooperation and support to the INEC. She implores to the Nigerian security forces, even as they battle the Boko Haram insurgents, to ensure security in the northeast of Nigeria," the statement said late Sunday.

The release added that the AU Commission will be closely following activities in the lead-up to the elections in Nigeria.

Nigeria's independent election commission decided late Saturday to postpone the presidential and parliamentary elections by nearly six weeks.

"This decision was taken in good faith and in the interest of democracy," INEC Chairman Attahiru Jega told a press conference in capital Abuja.

He said the presidential polls will be held on March 28 instead of Feb. 14 as earlier scheduled.

The governorship and state assembly elections, meanwhile, will be shifted from mid-March to April 11.

The election commission linked the delay decision to the security situation in Africa's most populous nation.

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