[Pages S7359-S7360]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                         SUBMITTED RESOLUTIONS

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  SENATE RESOLUTION 716--CALLING FOR CREDIBLE, TRANSPARENT, AND SAFE 
              ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

  Mr. MENENDEZ submitted the following resolution; which was referred 
to the Committee on Foreign Relations:

                              S. Res. 716

       Whereas it is in the best interest of the United States to 
     maintain a strong bilateral relationship with a politically 
     stable, democratic, and economically sound Nigeria that can 
     play a leadership role in the region and the continent more 
     broadly;
       Whereas Nigeria has presidential elections scheduled for 
     February 16, 2019, and gubernatorial and National Assembly 
     elections scheduled for March 2, 2019;
       Whereas credible elections could further consolidate 
     democratic gains achieved in Nigeria over the last two 
     decades since the transition from military to civilian 
     democratic rule;
       Whereas a 2017 survey conducted by Afrobarometer found that 
     72 percent of Nigerians agreed that democratic elections are 
     the best means of choosing their country's leaders, thus 
     indicating that the country's citizens are deeply committed 
     to democracy;
       Whereas collaboration between civil society actors and the 
     international community was a key factor that contributed to 
     successful elections in 2015;
       Whereas successive elections in Nigeria have featured 
     varying degrees of violence;
       Whereas there have been deeply concerning instances of hate 
     speech in Nigeria by members of both the ruling coalition and 
     the opposition inciting supporters to ethnic violence as a 
     means by which to gain electoral advantage, intimidate 
     electoral rivals, or suppress voter turnout;
       Whereas, during the Ekiti and Osun gubernatorial elections 
     in July 2018 and September 2018, respectively, there were 
     concerning incidents in which some elements of Nigeria's 
     security agencies displayed partisanship and a lack of 
     objectivity, which risks escalating tensions within the 
     country;
       Whereas Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission 
     (INEC) has improved the voting process, notably through the 
     introduction of continuous voter registration, the adoption 
     of simultaneous accreditation and voting, improvements to the 
     secrecy of the ballot, and the advancement of smart card 
     reader technology;
       Whereas the statement of the September 2018 Joint National 
     Democratic Institute/International Republican Institute Pre-
     Election Assessment Mission to Nigeria cited remaining 
     challenges and concerns such as delays in finalizing the 
     legal framework for the elections, delayed release of funds 
     for the elections, security threats in the Middle Belt and 
     North East, instances of vote-buying, and incitement to 
     violence and disinformation; and
       Whereas ensuring transparency in electoral preparations and 
     building public confidence in the electoral process is vital 
     for the success of the upcoming elections in Nigeria: Now, 
     therefore, be it
       Resolved, That the Senate--
       (1) reaffirms that the people of the United States will 
     continue to stand with the people of Nigeria in support of 
     peace and democracy;
       (2) calls on the Government of Nigeria and all political 
     parties and actors to--
       (A) take actions to facilitate elections that are credible, 
     transparent, and peaceful in order to support the will of the 
     people and advance the consolidation of democracy and the 
     stability of the broader region;
       (B) condemn in the strongest terms the use of hate speech 
     and incitement to violence, and refrain from any rhetoric or 
     action that seeks to demonize or delegitimize opponents, sow 
     division among Nigerians, or otherwise inflame tensions;
       (C) seek to resolve any disputes over results peacefully, 
     including through the legal system as necessary; and
       (D) respect the impartiality of the Independent National 
     Electoral Commission;
       (3) calls on the Government of Nigeria to--
       (A) refrain from deploying security forces in a partisan 
     manner;
       (B) ensure that security services maintain the highest 
     level of professionalism and impartiality in facilitating the 
     electoral process, enable accredited observers and 
     journalists to perform their work, and protect the right of 
     citizens to exercise their votes freely;
       (C) move expeditiously to finalize the proposed reforms to 
     the legal framework for elections and to ensure the 
     disbursement of requisite funds for the 2019 elections, and
       (D) enforce laws against election malfeasance, including 
     vote buying, and ensure equal and robust application through 
     such measures as the establishment of the Electoral Offenses 
     Commission and Tribunal;
       (4) urges all Nigerians to fully and peacefully engage in 
     the electoral process, insist on full enfranchisement, reject 
     inflammatory or divisive rhetoric or actions, and seek to 
     resolve any disputes over results through the legal system;
       (5) calls upon the Independent National Electoral 
     Commission to sustain confidence and trust in its management 
     of the electoral process by--
       (A) taking concrete measures to combat vote buying through 
     voter education campaigns, enforcement of laws against voter 
     inducement, and a nationwide ban on cell phones in the voting 
     cubicle;
       (B) releasing specimen ballots well in advance of Election 
     Day so that civil society and other electoral stakeholders 
     can conduct sufficient education to orient voters;
       (C) making adequate arrangements to ensure the 
     participation in the election of internally displaced persons 
     (IDPs); and
       (D) taking steps to clean the voter roll and ensure timely 
     production and distribution of the Permanent Voter Card to 
     new voters;
       (6) encourages political parties in Nigeria to adhere to 
     and enforce existing codes of conduct that commit parties to 
     democratic electoral standards regarding campaign use of 
     resources, engagement of voters, peaceful resolution of 
     disputes, and acceptance of verified and credible results;
       (7) condemns any efforts on the part of any politicians or 
     political parties in Nigeria to politicize the security and 
     law enforcement agencies;
       (8) encourages civil society organizations in Nigeria to--
       (A) promote the peaceful participation of citizens in the 
     electoral process and draw on existing inter-religious and 
     peacebuilding bodies to enhance their efforts;
       (B) disseminate information about citizen-based observation 
     findings and analysis to increase public knowledge and 
     understanding about the conduct of the elections; and
       (C) continue leading important early warning and response 
     mechanisms to mitigate election-related violence, including 
     through efforts to monitor hate speech and other forms of 
     incitement, and further strengthen democratic processes;

[[Page S7360]]

       (9) supports efforts by the Department of State, including 
     the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, and the 
     United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to 
     assist election-related preparation in Nigeria, including 
     through programs focused on conflict mitigation; and
       (10) calls on the United States Government and other 
     international partners, especially election-focused 
     nongovernmental organizations, to--
       (A) continue to support efforts by the Government of 
     Nigeria to address the remaining electoral preparation 
     challenges and identify gaps in which additional resources or 
     diplomatic engagement could make important contributions to 
     the conduct of the elections; and
       (B) support civil society organizations and media 
     organizations working towards transparency and accountability 
     in the use of state resources around the election period.

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