7th October, 2017
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and its Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) have pledged their commitment to peaceful and credible general elections in Liberia, scheduled for 10th October.
Head of the ECOWAS Election Observation Mission to Liberia and former Ghanaian President, Mr. John Mahama and President of the ECONEC governing board, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu made the commitment at a meeting in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital on 6th October.
Leading the 71-member regional observation mission, Mr. Mahama told Prof. Yakubu, who is also Chair of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), that Liberia required all necessary support from ECOWAS and the international community at this critical juncture of its political history.
Mahama, who also led the Commonwealth Observation Mission to Kenya’s polls last August said: “It is the first time that an elected government will be transferring power to another since the country’s devastating civil war that lasted for more than a decade.” The Liberian war ended with the ECOWAS-led international intervention.
He described the recent nullification of Kenya’s presidential election by the country’s Supreme Court as a lesson and useful experience for strengthening evolving electoral systems in Africa, especially with the introduction of technology.
He however warned against the entrenchment of a precedent whereby “elections are now settled by the judiciary, instead of at the polling booths.”
Prof. Yakubu, who led the ECONEC Needs Assessment and Solidarity Missions to Sierra Leone and Liberia last July, noted that the “integrity and moral force,” which the former president and his colleagues brought to electoral processes, facilitated the work of election management bodies on the continent, noting that all the 15 ECOWAS countries are now running democratic governments.
He restated his now familiar phrase that “it is cheaper to deploy ECONEC for credible and peaceful elections than to deploy ECOMOG,” the regional military force after flawed elections.
Specifically on Liberia, the ECONEC boss acknowledged the “huge challenge of delivering electoral logistics to the rural areas of the country during rainy season,” and the impact on the electoral process.
He expressed the hope that Liberia’s stakeholders would take another look at the electoral timetable for easy delivery of materials and reduction of the cost of election in the country.
In a separate meeting with the Chair of Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) in Monrovia on 7th October, Prof Yakubu reiterated ECONEC’s support to Liberia and other network members for the consolidation of democracy in the region.
The ECONEC boss was accompanied to the meetings by a strong INEC election observation team, including two National Commissioners, Prof. Anthonia Okoosi-Simbine and Dr Adekunle Ogunmola among others.
From Liberia, Prof Yakubu will lead an ECONEC delegation to Abidjan for talks on capacity building for Cote d’Ivoire’s elections Commission, at the behest of the Commission.