ECOWAS Commitment to Democracy

Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, president of ECOWAS Commission, assures of the body’s commitment to free, fair and credible elections in member states

THE ECOWAS Commission is irrevocably committed to working for free, fair and credible elections in member states.  Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, President of the Commission, said this was necessary to entrench democracy, good governance and facilitate regional integration and development. Receiving a delegation of executive members of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions, ECONEC, at the Commission’s Abuja headquarters on Monday, October 21, the president explained that the conduct of free, fair and credible elections whose results would reflect the will of the people would minimise if not eliminate election-related conflicts which often threatened the region’s peace and security. He pledged the commission’s continued technical and financial assistance to ECOWAS member states organising elections and the strengthening of its Electoral Assistance Division towards deepening electoral processes, democracy and good governance in the region.

Ouedraogo (L) and CAF, Ramatu Saccoh , when ECONEC Delegation visited ECOWAS
Ouedraogo (L) and CAF, Ramatu Saccoh , when ECONEC Delegation visited ECOWAS

Christiana Thorpe, leader of the delegation and current President of the ECONEC Executive elected a year ago, briefed Ouedraogo on the Network’s Action Plan and thanked the Commission for its immense support to ECONEC. The four main priority areas of the network’s action plan, she said, were improving the legal and institutional electoral environment in the region; improving the contributions of election monitoring bodies, EMBs, to solve problems related to the implementation of the electoral process; defining the role of EMBs in between election periods and improving the management of EMBs.

Thorpe, President of ECONEC, S. Leone (L) with Hounkpe, Sec. General, Benin
Thorpe, President of ECONEC, S. Leone (L) with Hounkpe, Sec. General, Benin

Thorpe, chair of Sierra Leone’s National Electoral Commission, also identified ECONEC’s main challenge as “accessing of funds to carry out our programmes as a network.” But in spite of the financial challenges, she commended the network’s reliable partners including ECOWAS, the UN Office in West Africa, UNOWA, UNDP, the German Political Foundation, FES, and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, OSIWA, for their continued support.

[L-R] ECONEC, Turoy, Miranda, Thorpe, Hounkpe and OSIWAS, Amenaghawon
[L-R] ECONEC, Turoy, Miranda, Thorpe, Hounkpe and OSIWAS, Amenaghawon

Thorpe, whose executive was elected a year ago for a two-year tenure with head office in Freetown, Sierra Leone, expressed the hope that partners would support the network in putting together a capacity building development concept for electoral staff at the national and regional levels.

Ouedraogo promised that the Commission would look into the network’s request for technical and financial assistance, and specially assuring that ECONEC and EMBs have been adequately represented on the ECOWAS poll observation missions deployed by the Commission to member states. He also pledged the Commission’s support to the plan by ECONEC to create an ECOWAS electoral database.

Group photogragh of Ouedraogo and Thorpe, with ECONEC and ECOWAS Delagation, Abuja
Group photogragh of Ouedraogo and Thorpe, with ECONEC and ECOWAS Delagation, Abuja

Thorpe was accompanied on the visit by Miranda Emmanuel, ECONEC 2nd Vice-President and Chair of Cape Verde’s National Electoral Commission, Madam Hounkpe Lea, ECONEC treasurer and administrative secretary of Benin Electoral Commission, Abu Turay, ECONEC Programme Officer and two representatives of OSIWA.

On the ECOWAS team, were Khady Ramatu Saccoh, commissioner for Administration and Finance, Jonas Hemou, director, External Relations Directorate, Francis Oke, of the ECOWAS Electoral Assistance Division, who is also ECONEC secretary general, and Bertine Sylla, communication adviser to the Ouedraogo.

ECONEC was established in February 2008 in Conakry not only to facilitate ECOWAS assistance to member states but also to serve as a regional platform for exchange of best practices and to enhance the capacities of the electoral commissions of member states.

— Oct. 28, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

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