The United States Government has reaffirmed its stance on the 2023 elections in Nigeria, threatening sanctions and visa restrictions, on politicians planning to interfere with the democratic processes or instigate violence.
The US also backed the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deploy the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and Electronic transmission of results.
Political Counselor at the United States Embassy in Nigeria, Rolf Olson, spoke on behalf of the United States Government at the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Alumni Association Annual Seminar 2022 on “Promoting electoral integrity in Nigeria: Prospects and challenges” in Abuja on Monday, November 21.
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Olson maintained that the United States Government does not have a candidate in the upcoming elections.
On the 2023 elections, he said: “It never ceases to amaze me how often we see comments, claims, and assertions from people in social and traditional media about what our supposed objectives are in the elections, which candidate or party we favour, how to interpret certain statements or actions of ours in terms of what it means about our intentions are perceptions.
“In reality, I think it’s quite simple to interpret us, especially when it comes to the elections. We always try to be clear in our messages, so let me be clear here on several important points:
“The United States does not support any individual candidate or party in this election cycle (or for that matter, in any other upcoming election). Our interest is in supporting credible and transparent elections that reflect the will of Nigerian voters, in a process that is conducted peacefully. Full stop. Individuals seeking to undermine the democratic process, including through violence, may be found ineligible for visas to the United States.
“We have imposed visa restrictions in the past against those responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process, and remain fully willing to do so again in the context of the upcoming elections.”
He advised parties, candidates, and their supporters to avoid language that tries to “guarantee” victory, adding that there is no true democratic election in which the outcome is foretold.