Nigeria Oil Delta Polls Delayed Amid Violence Fear

LAGOS (Reuters) – Nigeria postponed local government elections set for Saturday in the Niger Delta oil city of Warri for “logistical reasons” amid fears vote rigging in favor of one ethnic group could provoke violence.

The poll in three Warri local government areas was first postponed in March because of fears of violence by members of the Ijaw ethnic group, who complain they have been deprived of political power by their rivals, the Itsekiri.

“The election has been postponed until next Thursday. They will definitely take place at this later stage,” said James Omo-Agege, chairman of the Delta State Independent Electoral Commission late on Friday.

An uprising by the Ijaw last year temporarily forced multinationals to shut down 40 percent of the OPEC nation’s 2.5 million barrel-per-day oil output and prompted the deployment of thousands of troops to the wetlands around Warri.

Election officials said the ruling People’s Democratic Party, which has been accused by independent observers of widespread rigging in previous polls, had not yet published any candidate lists a day before the election was due to be held.

The Ijaw are in a majority in the Niger Delta, and outnumber the Itsekiri even in the three Warri areas, but Ijaw leaders say the PDP intends to field only Itsekiri candidates as chairmen of the Warri local governments.
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