Tags: kerry | boko haram | nigeria | election | peace

Kerry Ties US Aid Against Boko Haram to Peaceful Nigerian Vote

Sunday, 25 January 2015 03:39 PM

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Nigerian political rivals to ensure upcoming elections aren't marred by violence, and said more U.S. support in the fight against Boko Haram militants hinged on a peaceful ballot.

Kerry spoke as Nigerian forces fought to repel the Islamic extremists' latest offensive against Maiduguri, capital of the northeastern state of Borno, and deadly raids against six villages elsewhere in the region.

"We are prepared to do more. But our ability to do more will depend to some degree on the full measure of credibility, accountability, transparency and peacefulness of this election," Kerry said at a press conference Sunday in Lagos, referring to the Feb. 14 poll. "It is absolutely critical that these elections be conducted peacefully."

The top U.S. diplomat earlier met with the presidential candidates — incumbent Goodluck Jonathan and former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari — to stress the importance of preventing a repeat of the deadly post-election riots of 2011.

Kerry said the two candidates pledged their commitment to non-violence, and to urge supporters against resorting to violence after the election.

"So let me be clear — anyone who participates in, plans or calls for widespread or systematic violence against the civilian population must be held accountable," Kerry said.

Jonathan has promised to restore peace to the northeast, where the militants have killed more than 13,000 people since it began its insurgency in 2009. Boko Haram roughly translates to "Western education is a sin."

Engage More

"One of the principal reasons that President Obama asked me to come here at this time is to reinforce to all Nigerians the desire of the U.S. to be able to engage even more so in the effort to push back against Boko Haram," Kerry said. "But the quality of the democratic process is important to contributing our ability to do so."

Kerry said the U.S. was already sharing intelligence with the Nigerian authorities and that the scale of international support was not the "limiting factor" in the government's ability to combat the militants.

Instability stemming from the fighting could strain the electoral process. Boko Haram's campaign to build an Islamic- style caliphate is already threatening to disenfranchise about 980,000 displaced people, according to Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency.

The group's threat has become a regional concern, prompting Nigeria's neighbors to start a multinational task force and help the struggling Nigerian military.

"Nigeria has a critical role to play in the security and prosperity of this continent and beyond. We are committed to helping the electoral process succeed," Kerry said.


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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Nigerian political rivals to ensure upcoming elections aren't marred by violence, and said more U.S. support in the fight against Boko Haram militants hinged on a peaceful ballot.Kerry spoke as Nigerian forces fought to repel the...
kerry, boko haram, nigeria, election, peace
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2015-39-25
Sunday, 25 January 2015 03:39 PM
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