West African bloc upbeat on Nigeria's general election

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Saturday expressed optimism on Nigeria's forthcoming national polls, saying the country's electoral body had implemented some of its post-2011 general election recommendations.

The bloc said in a statement it would continue to partner with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) toward a peaceful election.

Nigeria, with an estimated population of 170 million people, has some 70 million registered voters and 22 political parties, which will be contesting for positions in the 469-seat two-chamber national assembly, state legislative assemblies and governors, with 14 candidates vying for the presidency.

The ECOWAS would continue to work with the INEC to ensure that Nigeria's electoral process was successful, the statement said, adding that the implementation put into place by the electoral body will be very productive and helpful.

The ECOWAS election observation mission was satisfied with the talks it held with authorities of the Nigerian electoral body on Saturday during a closed-door meeting, the bloc said.

"We discussed on camera and what we discussed was positive. Our discussions will support the electoral process," it said.

The ECOWAS has sent a 250-member election observation team to the West African country for the general elections starting on Feb. 14.

The ECOWAS mission, one of the largest foreign observation teams being deployed in Nigeria, will be headed by former Ghanaian president John Kufuor, who led a fact-finding mission to the country last October.

The general elections are taking place under heightened international interest and security concerns, especially in the northeastern part of Nigeria. Endi

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