AMOS Sawyer, former president of the Interim Government of National Unity of Liberia, and now, head of the short-term Election Observation Mission of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, for the 2016 legislative and presidential elections in Niger, has called on Niger citizens to fulfil their civic duty in a calm atmosphere.
He made the call during his visit on Tuesday morning, February 23, to several polling stations in Niamey, especially those located in Gaweye 1, CEG 20, Gaye I and II, CEG V and Yantala 4 schools.
He welcomed the peaceful conduct of the voting operations in all the polling stations he visited.
“For the moment, everything is moving smoothly and we have not witnessed any incident. We hope these elections will continue like this and they will be held in a calm and serene atmosphere in spite of the late commencement of voting this morning in the polling stations we just visited,” Sawyer said.
The former Liberian leader, who went to observe the double legislative and presidential election first hand, was accompanied by Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security of the ECOWAS Commission, and Remi Ajibewa, director of Political Affairs.
The head of the ECOWAS Election Observation Mission and his delegation witnessed the start of voting operations in the polling stations in CEG 20 School, located behind Niamey Airport.
Everywhere they went, Sawyer and his delegation found that the election was conducted in a calm atmosphere and that voters had come out to perform their civic duty in the quite early morning.
Sawyer and his delegation nevertheless deplored some shortcomings, notably the late start of the electoral operations, from one to two hours, due to lack of election materials as well as the absence of the chairman and members of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in some polling stations.
At the end of their visit to the polling stations, Sawyer and his delegation went to the ECOWAS situation room set up in a local hotel around the precincts of the election venue.
In the ECOWAS situation room, there were focal points from each region of Niger where ECOWAS observers were deployed. The main objective of the situation room was to monitor the progress of the double election in real time. in other words, it is a facility for the detailed monitoring of what transpires on the ground
It is worth recalling that ECOWAS deployed one hundred and thirty (130) observers, 15 long-term and 115 short-term, to observe the elections and monitor all pre-electoral, electoral and post-electoral voting operations and subsequently make their observations on the conduct, regularity, transparency, fairness and smooth conduct of the elections.
More than seven and a half million people in Niger were called to the polls on Sunday, February 2, instant, to elect 171 parliamentarians and their president for the next five years.
Fifteen (15) candidates, including the incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou, who has been in power since 2011, are contesting in the first round of the presidential election.
— Feb 23, 2016 @ 17:25 GMT