April 16, 2007

HARRISONBURG—Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, will serve on an international delegation to monitor Nigeria’s presidential and parliamentary election on April 21, 2007. The thirty-two official representatives from China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Hungary, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Namibia, Poland, Somaliland, Sudan, Uganda, and the United States will monitor the voting and ballot counting in Africa’s most populous country.

The international delegation will be led by Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper, former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes; the Honorable Andras Gyurk, a Hungarian member of the European Parliament; and the Abbé Apollinaire Muholungu Malumalu, President of the Independent Electoral Commission of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The delegation will be assisted by staff from the International Republican Institute (IRI), led by its president, Lorne W. Craner, who previously served as Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor under Secretary of State Colin Powell. IRI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to advancing freedom and democracy worldwide by developing political parties, civic institutions, open elections, good governance and the rule of law. IRI is—along with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), and the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS)—one of the four core institutes supported by the Congressionally-chartered National Endowment for Democracy.

In December 2006, Dr. Pham served on an international delegation led by Ambassador Prosper which conducted the pre-election assessment in preparation for the current monitoring and electoral exercise. The findings of that delegation, Nigeria’s 2007 National Election: Pre-Election Assessment Final Report, were published in February 2007.

In an article in the current issue of the foreign policy journal The National Interest, Dr. Pham noted: “This year is a critical one for both Nigeria and the United States. If [Nigerian President Olusegun] Obasanjo peacefully and constitutionally hands over power to an elected successor, he will not only achieve a feat that no other Nigerian leader has ever managed, he will make a significant contribution to regional stability and international security, including the strategic interests of the United States. This would secure America’s access to the West African country’s important petroleum resources and show that a large Muslim country other than Turkey can make progress along Samuel Huntington’s definition of democratic consolidation (two consecutive peaceful changes of government via free elections). If, on the other hand, Nigeria falters or simply comes unglued, it will not be long before the economic, political and military ripples in the River Niger wash ashore on the banks of the Hudson and Potomac.”\