ABUJA, Nigeria, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Presidential elections in Nigeria have been postponed by over a month in the face of security concerns involving Islamic militant group Boko Haram.
The elections were originally scheduled for Feb. 14 and will now be held March 28.
The administration of President Goodluck Jonathan called for the postponement in light of attacks by Boko Haram and military operations against the group, stirring widespread debate in the country. Political parties in opposition to President Jonathan characterized the reschedule as an attempt to prevent defeat at the polls, while proponents argued that about 40 percent of voter cards were not yet issued in several of Nigeria's states.
Following meetings Saturday by multiple political parties and the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, 21 of the INEC's 37 resident electoral commissioners -- each representing a Nigerian state and the capital Abuja -- voted in opposition to a reschedule, while 16 voted in favor.
On the same day, INEC Chairman Attahiru Jega received written notice from Nigeria's security agencies informing him they would not be available to provide protection for February elections due to a six-week military operation planned against Boko Haram forces in the northeast.
The offensive is slated to begin Feb. 14, the date elections would have been held.