Nigeria elections: Presidential candidates sign 'peace deal'

Buhari, rival Atiku Abubakar and other candidates pledge non-violence during the elections and vow to accept results.

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    Some 84 million people are registered to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections [Ben Curtis/AP]
    Some 84 million people are registered to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections [Ben Curtis/AP]

    Abuja, Nigeria - The presidential candidates in Nigeria's election have signed an electoral "peace deal" to ensure violence-free polls on Saturday.

    In capital Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari and the main opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar on Wednesday pledged peaceful presidential and legislative elections.

    The signatories called on their supporters "to refrain from violence or any acts that may in any way jeopardise our collective vision of a free, fair and credible election".

    "We'll vote according to parties but in the end, the only real party is Nigeria, our country," Buhari said. The candidates also pledged to "respect the outcome of free, fair and credible elections".

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    "Hopefully, our democracy should emerge stronger from this process with the 2019 elections proving better managed than 2015, which was also adjudged free and fair with the then opposition's victory unobstructed," Abubakar said.

    "Despite concerns expressed by my party leaders on electoral malpractices and intimidation of voters and observers, I trust that our election officials and security services will do their duty in accordance with their oath and obligations," he added.

    The peace deal was brokered by Chairman of the National Peace Committee Abdulsalami Abubakar, also a former military ruler.

    Former US President Bill Clinton was scheduled to attend the signing of the "peace accord", but he cancelled his visit to Nigeria less than 48 hours before the event.

    Security is a major concern before Saturday's vote, with fears of clashes between rival supporters.

    In 2011, nearly a thousand people were killed during post-election violence in the country's north after former President Goodluck Jonathan beat Buhari to the presidency.

    "The manner in which these elections unfold will determine the fate of the country for years to come, and have implications for the rest of the continent," president of the Kofi Annan Foundation Alan Doss said.

    Campaigning for the elections has been marred by hate speech and violence.

    Some 84 million people are registered to vote on Saturday in presidential and parliamentary elections. Polling for new state governors and state assembly members is on March 2.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News