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General Elections Kick off in Nigeria

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TEHRAN, April 2 (ICANA) – Polls have opened in Nigeria in the first round of general elections amid widespread violence in the run-up to the vote.
Saturday, April 02, 2011 1:24:08 PM
General Elections Kick off in Nigeria

Nigerians are heading to the polls to cast their ballots in the first round of general elections against a background of rampant violence in the run-up to the vote.

Some 73.5 million Nigerians are eligible to vote in the election for the 360-member House of Representatives and 109-member senate as the Africa's most populous country struggles to hold a free and fair election unlike previous elections, which have been largely associated with flaws and violence, AFP reported on Saturday.

The first round of parliamentary elections comes ahead of the presidential vote on April 9 and governorship and state assembly ballots on April 16, with Amnesty International calling on Nigerian officials to prevent violence, including bomb attacks and politically motivated clashes.

According to rights groups, at least 20 people have been killed in pre-election violence over the last two weeks. More than 500 people were killed in clashes related to ethnic tensions in Nigeria last year.

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, said on Friday that measures have been taken for the purpose of ensuring the polls are free and fair.

The Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), one of Nigeria's opposition political parties, has expressed hope for victory at the general elections. However, the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) holds a comfortable majority of seats in the parliament.

The electoral commission has stated that the final results of the parliamentary elections will be announced within two days.

Today's vote is considered a litmus test for the commission in holding the next two presidential and state assembly elections.

Incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, who has campaigned on a platform of reining in poverty and improving the economy, is widely expected to win the presidential vote on April 9.

Former military ruler General Muhammadu Buhari has been nominated by the opposition Congress for Progressive Change party. He has vowed to fight corruption, which he alleges to be rampant under the PDP rule.

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