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Page last updated at 14:57 GMT, Saturday, 6 February 2010

Delays mar key elections in Nigeria's Anambra state

A man casts his vote in the Aguata district of Anambra. Photo: 6 February 2010
Nearly two million voters are eligible to cast their ballots in Anambra

There have been delays in Nigeria's southern state of Anambra, where voters are electing a new governor.

Many polling stations remained closed for hours because some police officers refused to escort ballot papers, saying they had not received allowances.

Anambra state has a history of electoral fraud.

Saturday's vote there is being seen as a test of Nigeria's ability to hold credible presidential elections next year, correspondents say.

Turbulent politics

On Saturday, many polling stations in Anambra opened more than three hours late because of the delays with the delivery of ballot papers.

If this is the way elections will go in 2011 then we are still millennium years away from the right thing
Egghead Odewale
Independent election observer

"Everything is just in disarray. There is so much confusion in the air and nothing seems to be going on properly," independent election observer Egghead Odewale told the BBC's Newshour programme.

"In a lot of the places, election materials did not arrive on time, materials were not distributed as pre-planned. And in a number of places the voter register was mixed up and voters were unable to locate their names on the voter register.

"Honestly, if this is the way elections will go in 2011 then we are still a millennium years away from the right thing. It's really that bad," Mr Odewale said.

map

"We are eager to cast our votes. We are waiting but the materials are yet to arrive," Sunday Okpala, a voter in a village just outside the regional capital of Awka, was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

About 23,000 extra police and military have been drafted into the state for one weekend of voting, amid concerns over voter intimidation and violence, the BBC's Caroline Duffield in Lagos reports.

The state's turbulent local politics have seen a succession of governors elected and then thrown out of office by the courts after vote rigging, fraud and illegality, our correspondent says.

She adds that this time the electoral commission has promised that the vote will be free and fair.

But weeks ago police discovered a lorry stuffed with unofficial ballot papers, and one of the candidates claimed that his father had been kidnapped by political rivals.

Nearly two million voters are eligible to cast their ballots in Anambra to choose their governor among 25 contenders.



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