SWITZERLAND, NOVEMBER 15 – The United States Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, has said the US government could impose a visa ban, among other punitive measures, on perpetrators of violence in the coming Bayelsa State governorship election.
Pierangelo said despite the difficult terrain, the US would mobilise observers to the state to ensure a free, fair and transparent process.
She urged the Independent National Electoral Commission to be objective and operate without pressure and intimidation, adding that security agencies must also avoid interfering with the process.
The envoy, who spoke during a briefing on Wednesday at the US Consulate General on the Victoria Island, Lagos State, said she had already spoken to the leading political actors in the state, adding that the US was committed to ensuring a peaceful election in Bayelsa on Saturday.
She stated, “I recently returned from Bayelsa as part of my first trip to the Niger Delta region since assuming my role as the consul-general.
“In all of my public and private engagements with key stakeholders, I expressed the US expectations regarding an electoral outcome that reflects the will of the people of Bayelsa.
“We will be out there in the field observing the election. I am aware that many other foreign and international organisations will also be on the ground in Bayelsa.
“We will work closely with our colleagues and partners in the international community to promote a credible process that will benefit the people of Bayelsa,” she added.
While urging security agencies to provide a safe and impartial environment for residents to exercise their franchise, Pierangelo insisted that voter intimidation, vote buying and violence would not be tolerated.
She asked that women, the youth and people living with disabilities should be encouraged to participate.
“We call on all candidates and their supporters to reject election-related violence. The US and the international community will be watching the election closely in order to deter potential instigators of violence or those who seek to undermine the democratic process,” she added.
The consul general said if presented with verifiable evidence of election violence, “the US could impose a visa ban on those indicted.”
Many people are worried that the November 16th gubernatorial elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states will be marred by widespread violence and the run-up to the elections have seen killings and burnings in both states.
In Bayelsa, five people were killed two days ago when thugs invaded a PDP rally in Nembe Local government.