Nigerian President backs embattled polls chief



Nigerian President backs embattled polls chief Abuja: Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan backed the country's embattled polls chief on Tuesday, saying he had been left with no option but to postpone general elections after voting materials failed to arrive on time.

Africa's most populous nation had to abandon parliamentary polls on Saturday after results sheets failed to arrive in many parts of the country, sparking fury among voters who were promised a break with a history of flawed and violent polls.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) delayed its election timetable by a week -- including a presidential vote, now set for April 16, and state governorship polls ten days later -- to buy time to solve the logistical problems.

"What happened is another demonstration that the country and the electoral body are committed to conducting credible elections," Jonathan told journalists in the capital Abuja.

"Votes must count and it must begin with the parliamentary election because if we have a bad parliament, we cannot have a good government," he said.

INEC chief Attahiru Jega said he had been let down by suppliers who blamed shipping problems caused by the tsunami in Japan for failing to get ballot papers to Nigeria on time. But some saw a conspiracy to deprive them of a free vote.

An electoral official in the northern city of Zaria was beaten up for announcing the postponement on Saturday, while voters in the southern commercial hub Lagos remonstrated with police over what would happen to the ballots already cast.

INEC is now in a race against time to get materials in place ready for a second attempt at parliamentary polls on Saturday.

Bureau Report