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newsdesk report

President elect Umaru Yar'Adua of the PDP won the disputed elections

ELECTION monitors in Nigeria have said that last week’s elections were so badly flawed they should be cancelled and held again.

"We are going to call for a re-run of elections. You cannot use the result from half of the country to announce a new president," Innocent Chukwuma, chairman of the Transition Monitoring Group said on Sunday.

Atiku Abubakar, a leading oppositio candidate and former vice president, has also called for the results to be annulled saying it was the "worst election ever seen".

"I have already rejected the elections. They have no alternative other than to cancel them altogether," he said.

Voting began hours late on Saturday in many polling stations in the three major cities of Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano. Turnout was uneven and many voters complained of logistical problems.

In the northern city of Kano, where a Muslim cleric was assassinated in a mosque many polling stations opened about two hours late and voters complained of a lack of secrecy.

Umaru Yar'Adua, president Olusegun Obasanjo's chosen successor and a littleknown state governor, won the election by a landslide, gaining 24.6m votes, against 6.6m for his closest challenger, Muhammadu Buhari. 2.6m votes went for vice-president turned opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar.

Meanwhile second placed Muhammadu Buhari, the country's former military ruler said he would not accept the results and called for Obasanjo to be impeached. "We will not accept it. Clearly there was no election in more than half of the states," he said.

In Buhari's home town, of Daura in northern Katsina, youths angered by the lack of ballot papers went on the rampage and burnt down six houses belonging to people close to the ruling party.

The local monitoring group said that the national electoral commission had not been adequately prepared for the vote and that this had led to chaos on election day.

"In many parts of the country elections did not start on time or did not start at all," he said. Polling was marred by violence and accusations of corruption, vote-rigging and incompetence. But the presidential election commisioner has defended the process.

"In any country all over the world you can never get 100 per cent satisfaction. If it is largely free, fair and credible the result will stand." European Union observers have also expressed concern about the vote. 

"For now the assessment is outspokenly negative ... I'm very concerned," Max van den Berg, the head of the EU mission, said.

"These elections have not lived up to the hopes and expectations of the Nigerian people and the process cannot be considered to have been credible," He continued.

One group of observers said that at one polling station in Yenagoa, in the oil-rich south, where 500 people were registered to vote, more than 2,000 votes were counted.

The government responded to criticisms of the poll by accusing Ken Nnamani, the senate president, of trying to incite chaos and impose an interim government on the country. Nnamani, the third most senior state official, dismissed what he called "trumped up" charges and said he would never support a coup.

"These people have no shame," he told Reuters news agency, saying the conduct of the election had damaged Nigeria's role as an example for other African counties. Meanwhile the winner of Nigeria's controversial presidential election, Umaru Yar'Adua, has said he wants reconciliation with the country's opposition parties.

He said those unhappy with the result should seek redress in the courts. Speaking to the BBC, Mr Yar'Adua said there were lapses and there was need for reform, but he said opposition parties should put their concerns before the courts.

"I have extended a hand of friendship and I will continue to do so and I will continue the effort at reconciliation. "I have recognised their right to feel aggrieved and disagree with the results. But I have also recognised their rights within the law to take all the necessary actions to seek redress."



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