ECOWAS Election Assistance Improving Polls With Integrity In West Africa

Public Presentation of “A Decade of ECOWAS Elecoral Assistance” authored by Paul Ejime

A book on “A Decade of ECOWAS Electoral Assistance in West Africa” has been unveiled in Abuja with an official of the German Development Agency, GIZ, which provided funding for the publication commending ECOWAS’ electoral assistance for adding value to elections in the region.

“With ECOWAS Electoral Assistance elections in recent past in the region have seen great improvement and the German Government will continue to support this laudable initiative,” declared Ludwig Kirchner, Head of GIZ Support Programme to the ECOWAS Commission.

He spoke during the presentation of the book published by the ECOWAS Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security at the on-going Abuja International Conference on Opportunities and Challenges in the use of Technology in Elections.

The ECOWAS Director of Political Affairs Dr Remi Ajibewa outlined the various forms of electoral assistance provided to member States which include, financial and logistical support, Observation, Security, Needs Assessment, Fact-finding and Follow-up Missions, Mediation and Preventive Diplomacy.

Authored by Paul Ejime, an International Media and Communications Specialist, the work is a rich resource material on ECOWAS’ laudable initiatives at consolidating democracy through the promotion of credible elections and using electoral assistance as a tool for conflict prevention.

It traces the genesis of ECOWAS Electoral Assistance started some two decades ago, the progress so far, challenges, lessons learnt and the way forward.

The publication also documented the commitment of regional leaders to democracy and good governance, which drives initiatives such as the electoral assistance, engagement of civil society, with a range of interviews including with Prof Attahiru Jega, former Chair of Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), who supervised Nigeria’s 2015 general elections, Dr Kwaduo Afari-Gyan, former Chair of Ghana’s Electoral Commission and Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, former Executive Secretary and President of ECOWAS Commission, who is now Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS).

There are also insightful perspectives by former ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Mr Halima Ahmed, who penned the Foreword, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chair and President of the governing board of ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC), with his now famous quotation that “it is better and more cost-effective to deploy ECONEC in peace time, than to deploy ECOMOG” (the regional military force) after failed elections.

The book also contains views by Francis Oke, Head of ECOWAS Electoral Assistance Division, Chukwuemeka Eze, Executive Director of the West African Network for Peace building (WANEP), election experts, observers, and Heads of Election Management Bodies (EMBs) in the region, including those of Burkina Faso and Cape Verde, on election related issues such as political inclusivity, gender, youth and persons with disability, the role of the media, including social media performance during elections, and the challenges of technology deployment in the electoral process.

The publication also documents the contributions of development partners such as GIZ, EU, the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), UNDP, UK and Norwegian   Governments, Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), which has been providing financial support to ECONEC since its inception in 2008.

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