By Ken Sackey, GNA
Accra, Feb. 28, GNA – Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) is working with development partners to improve the integrity of its Long-term Election Observation Missions as an effective tool for conflict prevention and deepening of democracy in the region.
“Elections, and by extension, their observation, can contribute to the strengthening of democracy just as flawed electoral processes can derail the democratisation process of any nation,” ECOWAS Special Representative in Cote d’Ivoire Mr Babacar Mbaye said in Abidjan on Monday at the opening of a two-day workshop on the review of the impact of ECOWAS LTEOMs.
According to a statement issued by the ECOWAS Commission made available to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, Mr Mbaye, speaking on behalf of the ECOWAS Commission President Marcel Alain de Souza, told the gathering of electoral experts and representatives of ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) and development partners that rigorous and impartial election observation was critical to delivering fair and credible elections for the entrenchment of democratic principles in the region.
He noted that after ten successful Long-term Election observation missions to ten Member States and in furtherance of the ECOWAS Commission’s commitment to constantly improving the integrity of its election observation missions, there was the need to review the process.
The ECOWAS Special Representative therefore tasked the experts to “identify what has worked, what has not, the challenges,” and come up with “concrete recommendations on how to make things better.”
He explained that “Preliminary Declarations of ECOWAS Election Observation Missions was generally accepted by local and international stakeholders as true and objective reflections of electoral processes in West Africa,’ but “like every other human endeavour, this exercise has not been flawless,’ hence the continuous efforts to improve the integrity of the process.
Mr Mbaye thanked development partners, particularly the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), GIZ, which has since 2014, supported the deployment of some ECOWAS LTEOMs to 10 Member States.
In her remarks, GIZ Representative, Mrs. Phidelia Amey also underscored the importance of Long-term election observation mission as a mechanism for conflict prevention.
Participants analysed the role of LTEOMs in identifying potential electoral disputes with the aim of triggering Preventive Diplomacy initiatives by ECOWAS authorities to prevent degeneration into full-blown pre- or post-election conflicts.
The Participants included experts who had served on previous ECOWAS LTEOMs, ECONEC, staff of the Political Affairs Directorate, including the EAD, as well as representatives of GIZ and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA).
The ECOWAS Commission in 2014 included long-term election observation mission to complement its regular short-term approach, with the first ever 45-day Long-term Election Observation Mission deployed to the post-transition general election in Guinea Bissau.
The LTEOMs provide more qualitative and comprehensive assessment and undertake more analytical observation of the critical phases of the electoral processes leading up to, during and after election days.
In consonance with the provisions of relevant regional instruments, especially the Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, ECOWAS has supported and observed major elections in its Member States as part of efforts to strengthen democratic practice in the region.