A Nigerian joint parliamentary committee said it had accepted there was a need to delay January’s elections, making a three-month postponement of the vote to April almost certain.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Africa’s most populous nation asked last week for the delay to iron out problems with voter registration, and committee chairman Ike Ekweremadu said the arguments were reasonable.
“We are satisfied with the explanation given,” Ekweremadu, a senator, told reporters, adding that work on changes to the electoral law would start as soon as the INEC had presented a timeline guaranteeing there would be no more slippage.
The INEC is due to report back on Wednesday to the committee, which is formed from both of Nigeria’s parliamentary chambers, Reuters reports.
“I’m hoping that within a very short time we will finish with it so that the business of the election next year will continue,” Ekweremadu said.
Since the end of military rule in 1999, Nigerian elections have been marred by irregularities and legal wrangling, although the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has maintained a firm grip on power.
Next year’s polls are likely to be highly contentious due to the absence of PDP consensus about its candidate for president following the death of Umaru Yar’Adua, a northern Muslim, in his first term earlier this year.
President Goodluck Jonathan, a southern Christian who succeeded Yar’Adua, has registered as a candidate but some PDP officials feel he should not run because of an unwritten party rule that power rotates between north and south every two terms.