Lomé, Tuesday, 19th November, 2019
A three–day workshop organised by the Political Affairs Directorate of the ECOWAS Commission, in collaboration with the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA), the Swedish agency for peace, security and development, opened in Lomé, on Tuesday, the 19th November 2019, to strengthen the capacity of Togolese national peace actors on the use of dialogue and mediation to prevent or mitigate election-related violence or disputes
This is against the background of the presidential election due in 2020 in the country.
Addressing participants, including representatives of civil society organizations, traditional and faith-based organizations, governmental structures responsible for the management of elections, security agencies, women, youths and the physically challenged, Dr Garba Lompo, the Permanent Representative of the President of the ECOWAS Commission in Togo, reiterated the commitment of ECOWAS to peaceful, free and transparent elections in the region.
He explained that this was reflected in the organization’s normative frameworks and instruments, particularly the 2001 Protocol on democracy and good governance.
The ECOWAS representative expressed gratitude to President Faure Gnassingbe of Togo for his commitment to peace and stability in the country, nothing that ECOWAS has observed that competitive elections have the potential of generating conflicts, which if not well-managed could escalate into violence.
He therefore called on Togolese political stakeholders to work towards promoting the culture of peace, build confidence in the electoral process and ensure that all efforts were put in place to prevent and mitigate potential pre- and post-election violence as the country prepared for the 2020 presidential election.
In his remarks, Mr Per Bjälkander, the FBA Senior Dialogue and Peace Mediation Officer said the ECOWAS-FBA partnership seeks to strengthen the capacities of relevant stakeholders and peace actors in Togo to ensure a violence-free electoral outcome in 2020.
Other objectives of the workshop include creating the opportunity for participants to appreciate the ECOWAS normative principles and frameworks for transparent and peaceful elections, and the organisation’s commitment to using dialogue and mediation in resolving electoral disputes and conflicts.
In addition, the workshop would provide a forum for the participants to brainstorm and identify contending issues around the forthcoming election and the possible role they could play in preventing and mitigating potential electoral violence.
Like in similar workshops already conducted in some other member States, the Lomé event being attended by some 60 participants also seeks to ‘‘sustain and enhance ECOWAS’ strategic engagement with the Togolese electoral process.’’
At the opening ceremony were representatives of the Togolese Government, namely, the Ministry of security and territorial administration; the Independent National Electoral Commission, CENI, Togo, the National Human Rights Commission, members of the diplomatic corps in Togo, including from the European Union, UNDP, France, Germany and Egypt.
The ECOWAS Dialogue and Mediation Handbook serves as a facilitation text for the workshop, with participants expected to acquire practical techniques and skills for dialogue and mediation as important tools for the management of electoral conflicts through case studies and simulation exercises.