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ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigeria is postponing presidential and legislative elections until March 28 because security forces fighting Boko Haram extremists cannot ensure voters' safety around the country, the electoral commission announced Saturday. Officials in President Goodluck Jonathan's government have been calling for weeks for the postponement.
"Many people will be very angry and annoyed," Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman Attahiru Jega told a news conference Saturday night. "I want to assure all Nigerians, no one is forcing us to make this decision, this is a very weighty decision." He said the commission had considered holding elections outside of the four northeastern states most affected by the uprising by Boko Haram Islamic militants, but decided that the likelihood of an inconclusive presidential election would be "very, very high."
Some 800 people were killed in protests in the predominantly Muslim north after 2011 elections when Jonathan, a Christian, beat former military dictator and Muslim northerner Muhammadu Buhari. Both men are facing off again in this year's contest. A statement from Jonathan's party commended the postponement but blamed it on the commission, saying it is suffering "numerous logistical problems." Buhari's coalition said it was holding an emergency meeting to discuss the implications of "this major setback for Nigerian democracy."
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