Nigeria's election commission announced plans Saturday to postpone the country's presidential and legislative elections for six weeks because of security concerns over violence in the region, according to the Huffington Post, citing a report at the Associated Press.
Election-commission Chairman Attahiru Jega said that the vote would be rescheduled from Feb. 14 to March 28 because security agencies were unable to guarantee safe elections while battling a violent insurgency by Boko Haram militants, the report notes.
"We wish to call on all Nigerians to accept this in good faith to deepen democracy in our country Nigeria," the report says, citing a tweet by Jega on Saturday.
But civil rights groups expressed opposition to the postponement, saying that the vote comes at a critical time for country, the Associated Press reports. Attacks by the militant insurgents have increased in an effort to establish an Islamic caliphate in the country's Northeast. More than 1 million Nigerians have fled their homes amid the violence, the report notes.
AP reports that officials in Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's administration had been calling for the postponement amid deep concerns over voter disenfranchisement because of warring factions and delays in the distribution of voter-ID cards. But Jonathan's chief rival, former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari, and his opposition coalition opposed any delay.
Boko Haram militants have flooded into neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, and this week the African Union promised thousands of troops for a joint force to battle the Islamic extremists.
Read more at the Huffington Post.