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ECOWAS renews efforts for effective elections in Member States

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has renewed its commitment to assist Member States in conducting credible and transparent elections that will lead to political stability and economic development of the individual member states in particular and the region in general. This was disclosed at the annual meeting of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commission (ECONEC) that was held in Praia, Cape Verde on 22nd July, 2015. The meeting provided an opportunity for members of the ECONEC General Assembly and Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) of Member States to review the electoral processes in the region, so as to create a more effective approach for ECONEC to assist Member States in the conduct of credible elections, as well as to improve electoral management.

During the meeting the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman urged participants to come up with strategic plans that will address the needs of the EMBs and resolve institutional structural challenges that negatively affect electoral processes. Mrs. Suleiman recalled the recent electoral processes in the region and highlighted significant achievements that were recorded in the recently held elections in Nigeria and Togo. She also highlighted ECOWAS Electoral Assistance package delivered through financial and technical support under the framework of Article 12 of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.

In her own remarks, the Cape Verdean Minister of Internal Affairs, Mrs. Marisa Morais, welcomed participants and stated that the achievement of democracy in Africa was an irreversible process aside some setbacks. She therefore encouraged the conduct of an in-depth analysis of successes and challenges in order to share experience among the electoral management bodies in the Member States. Mrs. Morais said democracy is beyond conducting election but a constant improvement of institutions. She said ECOWAS citizens were demanding for more than just elections but entrenchment of democratic tenets and principles. She urged for an active participation of the citizens in order to enhance democracy and the rule of law.

During the Assembly the Acting Chairman Mr. Siaka Sangaré, highlighted the achievements of the network under the leadership of the former Chairperson Dr. Christiana Thorpe, which include the setting up of a permanent secretariat for the network as well as a designed Logo and web site. He said the full implementation of the action plan of the network was hampered by the Ebola outbreak in the region.

The General Assembly provides important inputs for the ECOWAS Division of Electoral Assistance regarding its intervention towards the next elections to be held within the region this October and next year. The meeting was supported by some of ECOWAS Development Partners including; Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), the German International Cooperation (GIZ) and the European Union (EU).

ECONEC was created in 2008 in Conakry, Guinea, to facilitate the exchange of ideas between the region EMBs and strengthen their role on electoral processes across West Africa. Delegates at this year’s Assembly elected a new Executive Bureau.

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