U.S. Vice President calls President Jonathan, backs use of card readers

The United States Vice President, Joe Biden, has expressed his country’s support for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to deploy voter card readers for Nigeria’s upcoming elections.

Mr. Biden made the position of the U.S. known when he telephoned President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday, a statement issued by the United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria, said Thursday.

Mr. Biden also spoke with Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

“The Vice President further expressed the United States’ support for the Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission and its work to deliver free, fair, and credible elections, in part through its essential efforts to distribute Permanent Voter Cards and help ensure that electronic voter card readers are in place and fully operational,” the statement said.

The plan by INEC to use card readers has generated controversy between Nigeria’s frontline political parties: the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the APC.

The PDP says verification of cards before voting will delay the process and will likely disenfranchise voters since the technology is new.

But the APC backs INEC’s argument that the card readers will curb voting fraud.

Speaking to Messrs. Jonathan and Buhari, the U.S. Vice President also expressed concern over recent political violence in ahead of the elections.

Read the full text of the statement:

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden spoke yesterday with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the Nigerian presidential election, which is scheduled for March 28.

The Vice President commended President Jonathan and General Buhari for signing the Abuja Accord in mid-January as a show of their commitment to non-violence throughout the election process.

The Vice President further expressed the United States’ support for the Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission and its work to deliver free, fair, and credible elections, in part through its essential efforts to distribute Permanent Voter Cards and help ensure that electronic voter card readers are in place and fully operational.

He also noted his concern about the violence during some recent election-related events and reiterated the need for both candidates to make clear that such violence has no place in democratic elections.

Vice President Biden affirmed that the United States stands with the Nigerian people in support of credible and peaceful elections, and will continue to stand with the Nigerian people whatever the outcome.


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