Continued from page 2

New elections chief sees obstacles to free vote

ABUJA | Nigeria’s new elections chief said Wednesday the country faces tremendous challenges implementing reforms in time for elections in April and said establishing accurate voter lists is a vital first step.

An electoral roll riddled with fictitious names and omitting legitimate voters was among the many problems of Nigeria’s last elections in 2007, elections so marred by ballot stuffing and voter intimidation that observers deemed them not credible.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who took over as head of state last month after the death of late President Umaru Yar’Adua, has made avoiding a repeat of the 2007 fiasco his top priority.

“We know the challenges are tremendous in terms of ensuring that we bring free and fair and credible elections,” Attahiru Jega, the incoming head of the national electoral commission, told the Senate at his confirmation hearings. “I am certainly aware the credibility of the elections come 2011 will to a large extent be predicated on the credibility of the voter register.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports