As part of key stakeholder engagements to engender consensus for peaceful elections and credible outcome, the Head of the ECOWAS Observer Mission to the 11th April Benin Presidential Election, former president of Sierra Leone, H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma, has held consultations with the Electoral Commission of Benin on its centrality to the entire electoral process.
The former president said that although the demands and expectations of the public as well as political parties for credible polls make the work of the election body pretty difficult, he urged them to put the interest of the country first as their activities are critical to the outcome of the elections.
He noted the expressed readiness of the Commission to conduct the polls and the deployment of non-sensitive materials and hoped that training of polling agents will be completed before polling day.
On concerns about security of the vote, staff and the entire electoral process itself, the Head of Mission (HoM) hoped that collaboration between the Electoral Commission and the security sector and other stakeholders will address those concerns.
“As a region, ECOWAS continues to work together to deepen our democracy and so we are here to give the necessary support to the process through consultations and experience sharing so that in the end, the outcome will be acceptable and to the pride of the nation and people of Benin”, the HoM assured.
In a related development, the HoM also engaged the plenary of ECOWAS observers on the processes of the Benin Presidential Election.
He pointed out the importance of the election for the peace and stability of the country and by extension the ECOWAS region, and commended all political stakeholders in the country for the peace this far, and called for more support and cooperation with the CENA and the Republican National Police.
The HoM also entreated the Police to maintain the highest professional standards (of conduct) throughout the period of the elections, from the period leading to ballot up until the announcement of the result.
While noting the importance of security throughout the process, former president Koroma reiterated the need for the election to be transparent, free and credible.
It could be recalled that many West African countries have recently shown signs of democratic decline through the erosion of human rights and the democratic space. Senegal, Togo, Guinea and Ivory Coast have all exhibited signs of democratic decline as government security forces have either used violence against political opponents or democratic protesters.
From the foregoing, it is clear that this election has significant stakes for not just Benin, but West Africa and far beyond.