By Paul Ejime
August 5, 2018.
The delegation of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) led by governing board President Mahmood Yakubu has ended a four-nation Needs Assessment and Solidarity Mission, pledging support for Togo’s 20 December parliamentary elections endorsed by the Lome Summit of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government.
The delegation met on Saturday in Lome with Togo’s National Electoral Commission, CENI, rounding up a tour that took it to Mali, which held an inconlusive presidential election on 31st July, Senegal, and Guinea Bissau, on the heels of the latest decision by the ECOWAS Summit endorsing Togo’s parliamentary polls for 20 December.
CENI President, Prof. Kodjona Kadanga and senior officials of the Commission discussed with the visiting delegation, preparations for the December polls, and how ECONEC and its members could assist to deliver a credible electoral process.
After summarising the outcome of his delegation’s mission to the three other countries, Prof Yakubu, who is also Chair of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), explained that ECONEC usually visits its members preparing for elections to ascertain their needs, readiness, challenges and how ECONEC could support the process.
“This is because well-conducted elections lead to peace, while badly-conducted polls precipitate conflicts,” he said, adding that ECONEC’s support to its members is to enable them deliver peaceful and credible elections for the consolidation of peace, stability and democratic governance in the ECOWAS region.
Prof Kadanga told the delegation, which includes senior INEC officials that the Togo parliamentary elections were to have taken place in July, but had to be postponed due to disagreements among the stakeholders over constitutional issues, including presidential term limit and the Inter-Togolese Political Dialogue to resolve the political impasse.
He thanked the team for the solidarity visit and assured that CENI would work to deliver a credible poll in December within the framework agreed by Togolese stakeholders and endorsed by the ECOWAS summit, beginning with the national registration of voters.
Professors Yakubu and Kadanga later exchanged presentations of copies of a recent INEC study on electoral participation and observation by Persons with Disability (PWD), and the Report of a 2015 International Colloquium held in Lome on Politics and violence in Black Africa, challenges, and the way forward.
Togo, with an estimated seven million population had by its 2015 presidential election, registered some 3.5 million voters.