Diplomatic missions of the U.S.A, Australia, Japan, Norway, Canada and the UK in Nigeria have charged presidential candidates and political parties to uphold commitments signed at the Abuja Peace Accord, the second in the series.
All political parties and their presidential candidates signed the second peace accord in Abuja on Wednesday to accept the outcome of the elections or to seek legitimate means of redress in the event of divergent positions.
The peace past was organised and coordinated by the National Accord for Peace under the chairmanship of former Head of State, retired Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar.
The diplomatic missions, in a joint-statement, noted the commitments as “accepting the results of the election as announced by INEC and to pursue any challenge of the results through the appropriate legal channels’’.
They welcomed the signing of the peace accord by the contesting parties, adding that they were fully committed to supporting all efforts that would ensure citizens decided who won the election.
According to the missions, it is vital for Nigeria’s stability and democratic consolidation that the elections are conducted and concluded safely, fairly and credibly.
“We encourage all actors to intervene proactively to calm any tensions and avoid any violence in the periods before, during and after the elections.
“We call on all officials at federal and local levels in Nigeria to respect the human and democratic rights of citizens.
“We strongly condemn any actions that undermine the peaceful and transparent conduct of the electoral process,’’ the statement read.
The missions also called on parties to respect electoral laws and institutions and to take a firm stand against violence and hate speech by their supporters.
They asked security services to do their utmost to protect the process and prevent and deter attacks against INEC facilities, materials and personnel.
They also called on all officials, including law enforcement agents to ensure a safe and conducive environment for the exercise of public freedoms.
This, they noted, included the freedom of opinion and expression; the freedom of peaceful assembly and the freedom of association, all of which are essential in democratic societies, in particular in the context of elections.
“Law enforcement authorities should remain visibly neutral and respond in appropriate manner to any election-related incidents.
“We hope that this year’s elections further build Nigeria’s democratic tradition,’’ the missions stressed.
They congratulated Nigeria on its 24 years of democratic progress since 1999, noting that the country had been a symbol of the value of exercising democratic rights for the betterment of society to others. (NAN)