Monday 8 March 2010

U.N. chief appalled by Nigeria violence, calls for restraint

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon 'deeply concerned' about religious violence in Nigeria.

UNITED NATIONS (MARCH 8, 2010) UNTV - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday (March 8) he was deeply concerned about the recent "appalling" deaths in Nigeria, and urged the country's political and religious leaders to solve the nation's crisis.
Several hundred people are feared to have been killed in recent clashes involving Muslim herders and Christian villagers. Violence has been concentrated around the city of Jos, which lies at the crossroads of Nigeria's Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.

"I am deeply concerned that there has been more inter-religious violence, with appalling loss of life," Ban said in New York. "I appeal to all concerned to exercise maximum restraint."

He urged Nigeria's political and religious leaders to work together to "address the underlying causes and to achieve a permanent solution to the crisis in Jos."

Nigeria's acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, called an emergency meeting with all security service chiefs on Monday to discuss strategies to prevent clashes spreading to neighboring states, presidential sources said.

Solid 62 % turnout for Iraq election

Turnout in Iraq's parliamentary election was 62 percent, higher than in last year's provincial ballot, despite attempts by Sunni Islamist insurgents to disrupt the vote with attacks that killed 38, officials said.

REUTERS - Electoral workers in Iraq, count votes in tally centers across the country...a day after 62 percent of Iraq's 19 million eligible voters turned out to cast their the country's second parliamentary elections.

The turnout exceeded expectations, despite attempts by Sunni insurgents to disrupt the vote... in an election hoped to mark an end to years of sectarian violence.

In Baghdad, U.S ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill said the elections were a success.


"It's a good day for Iraq democracy and I believe it will be a real foundation point of a new beginning for the U.S. relationship with Iraq, we hope will stretch decades to come."

At least 38 people were killed in attacks across Iraq on election day, but U.S military officials said Iraqi security forces had passed a crucial test --- successfully preventing large-scale violence

Major General Stephen Lanza.

Major General Stephen Lanza, saying:
"No high profile, no vehical-borne improvised explosive devices, no suicide vests...those large high profile attacks did not occur yesterday and I attribute that to the professionalism, the growth of capability and capacity of the Iraqi security forces who conducted this mission in a tremendous manner yesterday after years of hard work....and as I've said earlier, I think what we saw yesterday and what the Iraqi people have seen as what the American troops that were out there supporting them is a return on the investment of the last six plus years in this country as Iraq continues to move forward."

Preliminary results are expected in two or three days, but it could take months to form a new government, raising fears of a political vacuum that could test Iraq's fragile democracy.

This as the United States prepares to end combat operations this year and completely withdraw from the country by the end of 2011.

Pavithra George, Reuters.

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