By Temitope Ponle
The ECOWAS Heads of State and Government have charged Nigeria and Senegal to leave no stone unturned in ensuring the conduct of elections are peaceful, free and transparent.
The leaders, who gave the charge in a final communiqué issued at the just concluded 54th Ordinary Session in Abuja on Sunday, directed the ECOWAS commission to provide the necessary support to the two countries.
“The Authority notes with satisfaction, the status of preparation for the general elections in Nigeria on Feb. 16, 2019 and presidential election in Senegal on Feb. 24, 2019 and urges the government and relevant electoral bodies to leave no stone unturned in ensuring the elections are peaceful, free and transparent.”
They also lauded the smooth conduct of the presidential elections in Mali and congratulated President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on his re-election.
They instructed the commission to take measures to support the democratic process and implement the Agreement and the roadmap of March 22.
On the political situation in Togo, the leaders commended the endeavors of President Nana Akuffo-Addo of Ghana, President Alpha Conde of Republic of Guinea and ECOWAS facilitators in the resolution of the crisis.
They noted the readiness of the Togolese Government to organise local elections in 2019 and encouraged the active involvement of all stakeholders for a peaceful process.
The Heads of State encouraged the Togolese Government to intensify the peace and confidence-building measures between all political stakeholders to further ease the socio-political situation.
They also urged security forces to demonstrate professionalism in their mission of maintaining order and ensuring the security of people.
On The Gambia, the Authority lauded the positive developments in the political and security situation and further took note of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission.
They also called on the country to swiftly implement the security sector reform programme.
On Guinea Bissau, the Heads of State expressed concern on the continued delay in the conduct of parliamentary elections, taking note of the challenges involved.
They further encouraged stakeholders to work towards the conduct of the forthcoming parliamentary elections on March 10, 2019 and also urged the commission to intensify technical support for smooth electoral process.
“The Authority mandates the Chairman to impose sanctions on the basis of proposals for the President of the commission, against stakeholders who obstruct the smooth conduct of the electoral process,” they directed.
The leaders also reaffirmed the importance of peace, security and stability in ECOWAS for the economic development of the region.
They also reiterated their condemnation of terrorist attacks and expressed solidarity with the affected countries.
They lauded the cooperation among certain member states intending to effectively combat the scourge of terrorism and instructed the commission to support and extend cooperation to the states.
The Heads of State also urged member states to expediate the simplification of information and intelligence sharing mechanisms and the harmonisation of their legal systems to respond to terrorist attacks.
The 54th Ordinary Session of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government had in attendance nine presidents while five were represented.
They are presidents Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, Roch Kabore of Burkina Faso, Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire, Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, Alpha Conde of Guinea, José Mário Vaz of Guinea Bissau, Issoufou Mahamadou of Niger, Julius Madaa Bio of Sierra Leone and Faure Gnassingbe of Togo.
Sengal was represented by its Prime Minister, Mahammed Dionne, while The Gambia, Mali and Liberia were represented by their foreign ministers.
Benin was represented by its ambassador to Nigeria while Cape Verde was not present at the meeting.