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2023 ELECTIONS: US TO IMPOSE VISA SANCTIONS ON POLITICIANS WHO INSTIGATE VIOLENCE

The United States Government has warned that Nigerian politicians who undermine Nigeria’s democratic elections in 2023 through violent acts will be placed under visa sanctions.

This was disclosed by Rolf Olson, Political Counselor at the U.S Embassy in Nigeria during the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Alumni Association Annual Seminar in Abuja on Thursday.

According to him, The United States does not support any individual candidate or party in this election cycle.

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Olson noted that visa sanctions are one of the tools the US Government would use to help curb violence.

He said, “when we say all Nigerians, we mean all: politicians, candidates, students, leaders of religious, traditional, community, youth, and business organizations and entities – everyone has a role to play in this effort. Even a small number of troublemakers can cause substantial havoc in an election. It takes a comprehensive effort to try to eliminate the use of violence and inflammatory rhetoric.

“Individuals seeking to undermine the democratic process, including through violence, may be found ineligible for visas to the United States. We have imposed visa restrictions in the past against those responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process, and remain fully willing to do so again in the context of the upcoming elections.

“There is no true democratic election in which the outcome is foretold, adding that any candidate who is not willing to accept the possibility that you might be defeated, should not be running for office in the first place.”

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Olson urged that no democracy, Nigeria’s included, is well-served if millions of its citizens believe only one legitimate outcome on election day is possible. He, therefore, warned political parties to “steer clear of that kind of rhetoric, and Nigeria’s electoral process will be much the better for it.”

He also reemphasised that the U.S Government has no support for any individual candidate or party in the 2023 General elections or any other election. According to him, “the United States does not support any individual candidate or party in this election cycle.“

He added that its interest is in supporting credible and transparent elections that reflect the will of Nigerian voters, in a process that is conducted peacefully.

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