November 27, 2006

HARRISONBURG—Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, is serving on pre-election assessment mission to observe preparations for the national elections in Nigeria, scheduled to take place on April 21, 2007. The six-member delegation, which left Washington on Saturday, is being led by Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper, former head (2001-2005) of the Office of War Crimes Issues of the United States Department of State, and former Congressman Harry A. Johnston II, a Florida Democrat who served as President Bill Clinton’s Special Envoy to Sudan (1998-2000). The delegation is scheduled to return on Sunday, December 3, 2006.

The six U.S. delegates, who will be joined by four international delegates from Europe and Africa, will observe technical preparations for the upcoming elections, facilitate the presence long-term observers who will monitor the campaign and election period in the West African country, and prepare for international election observers who will be present for the voting.

The members of the assessment mission will be meeting with government officials as well as leaders and officials from various political parties, international and local nongovernmental organizations, and civil society groups. The delegation will also urge their interlocutors to contribute to a peaceful, lawful, and fair electoral process.

The pre-election assessment mission will also be assessing the political environment and the state of preparations for the poll. This information will be used to advise the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and Congressionally-chartered or funded democracy promotion organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy, International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and IFES, as well as international agencies, in planning for long-term observers and international Election Day observers. The work of the assessment team will also be incorporated in final reports to be released after the election.

Dr. Pham, the author of two books on West African political conflicts, served as an official delegate observing the national elections in Liberia last year. He writes a weekly syndicated column, “Strategic Interests,” on African security issues and U.S. national interests. He has also authored a number of articles on the political situation in Nigeria.

To read a recent article by Dr. Pham on the significance of the election, “ Nigeria at the Crossroads,” click here.