A former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, has called on all actors in the electoral processes in the West African sub-region to play their roles effectively to ensure that the outcomes of national elections are acceptable to all.
That, he said, would help reduce the tension and violence associated with such elections.
Dr Chambas also called for the strengthening of the peace architecture in the respective countries to help consolidate democracy and peace in the region.
The diplomat made the call at a two-day regional workshop to share experiences and lessons learnt under an electoral violence monitoring, analysis and migration (EMAM) project at the Labadi Beach Hotel in Accra yesterday.
The workshop, which brought together state and non-state actors in the electoral processes of 11 West African countries, including representatives of electoral management bodies (EMBs), was organised by the West Africa Network for Peace-building (WANEP), in partnership with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), and funded by the European Union (EU).
Participants will share achievements and lessons learnt in the implementation of EMAM in their countries to ensure peaceful elections in the region.
Dissatisfaction with system
Dr Chambas said even though West African states continued to organise elections, there was growing dissatisfaction with the electoral processes, which was fuelling the emerging trend of violence and non-acceptance of electoral outcomes in the region.
He cited eight out of the 14 national elections conducted in the region between January 2020 and March 2022 that ended with contested outcomes and led to violence in the affected countries.
Some of the countries were Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Niger and Togo.
He, therefore, called on the people to embrace multi-sectoral approaches to address electoral disputes, adding: “We cannot leave this journey to EMBs alone.”
“Electoral assistance should support broader democratic initiatives that can effectively respond to citizens’ aspirations. People now want to see the dividends of democracy,” Dr Chambas said.
The Minister for the Interior, Ambrose Dery, whose speech was read on his behalf by the Chief Director of the ministry, Adelaide Annor-Kumi, said the country’s security strategy sought to address threats that were potentially imminent and required constant monitoring through early warning mechanisms.
He said it would also address regional-level threats and risks, such as transnational originated crimes, border security challenges, violent extremism and terrorism, maritime security and humanitarian issues.
The minister expressed the hope that the workshop would help establish good democratic practices to ensure peaceful elections in the region.
The Executive Director of WANEP, Dr Chukwuemeka B. Eze, said the project reflected the organisation’s contribution to peaceful elections, political transitions and democratic stability in the region.
“It serves as good practice in charting a collaborative effort between state and non-state actors and will strengthen our resolve as ECOWAS citizens to find stable and sustainable ways to consolidate our democracy,” he added.
For her part, the Head of the Governance Section at the EU, Ms Anna Lixi, pledged the union’s continued support to such initiatives to help sustain peace and democracy in the sub-region.