WASHINGTON (AFP) - The top United States diplomat said on Saturday he was "deeply disappointed" by Nigeria's decision to postpone elections, and issued a call for calm.
The six-week delay was announced after security chiefs said the military needed more time to secure areas under the control of Boko Haram, the Islamist extremists who have seized swathes of territory in north-eastern Nigeria.
"The United States is deeply disappointed by the decision to postpone Nigeria's presidential election, which had been scheduled for Feb 14," Mr Kerry said in a statement. "Political interference with the Independent National Electoral Commission is unacceptable, and it is critical that the government not use security concerns as a pretext for impeding the democratic process," he stressed.
Mr Kerry said the international community "will be watching closely as the Nigerian government prepares for elections on the newly scheduled dates. The United States underscores the importance of ensuring that there are no further delays".