By Paul Ejime
Ahead of Mali’s Sunday crucial presidential election, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, President of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) governing board and Chair of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) met in Bamako on Saturday with officials of Mali’s Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) and Head of ECOWAS Election Observation Mission to Mali, Ambassador Kadre Desire Ouadraogo.
Prof Yakubu’s delegation, which includes some senior INEC officials, was received by CENI President, Amadou Ba and Barrister Moctar Mariko, President of Mali Human Rights Association.
Both sides discussed preparations for Sunday’s poll and the strengthening of cooperation between ECONEC and CENI, in line with the Network’s mandate on assistance, information and experience sharing, peer review and advocacy for support of election management bodies, to deepen electoral integrity and consolidation of democratic governance in the region.
President Bah thanked the ECONEC chief for the solidarity visit.
During a separate meeting at the ECOWAS Situation Room, Prof Yakubu and Ouedraogo underscored the need for synergy and collaboration among international observation missions and development partners to accompany Malians on the path to stability, democracy and good governance.
The 171-member ECOWAS observation mission to Mali, led by Ouedraogo, a former Burkina Faso Prime Minister and immediate past president of the ECOWAS Commission, also includes ECONEC Secretariat Staff, with the ECONEC Permanent Secretary, Mr. Francis Oke, Head of the ECOWAS Electoral Assistance Division, also serving as member of the ECOWAS Technical Team supporting the Mission, whose members are deployed in parts of Mali’s eight administrative regions.
Some eight million registered voters among Mali’s estimated 18 million national population will go to the polls on Sunday to elect a president from a total of 24 candidates including a female contestant and sitting President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, 73, who is seeking a second five-year mandate.