Free, credible elections, a major tool for consolidating democracy and development in West Africa and the Sahel
For a few years, the West African region and the Sahel have undeniably made huge progress in terms of organization and conduct of electoral processes. Various and important elections have been held in a peaceful context and allowed thousands of citizens to exercise their right to vote and to choose their candidates. The time when the outcomes of the elections were known in advance or imposed by the public authorities is over today! Youths and women want to get further engaged in political life. And the vote is the major instrument they have to change and improve their living conditions.
The time when the outcomes of the elections were known in advance or imposed by the public authorities is over today
The Gambian example reflects on the increasing determination of the populations to own the elections process in order to achieve a political change and bring about a change likely to meet their expectations.
Except few technical problems and minor acts of violence, countries like Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Guinea, The Gambia, Benin, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Niger, have all held peaceful elections.
In addition to people’s determination, national and regional institutions are committed to initiating a dynamic for change across the region, with good governance and development being the driving forces.
The countries of the region have made commendable efforts to improve their legal environments, invest in training and civic education, further engage women and youths in political life, and improve logistics and operational tools. At the same time, at the regional level, institutions have put in place several mechanisms and instruments to support their members and help them implement the necessary changes.
Faithful to its mandate to “maintain international peace and security,” the UN has always worked for peace and human rights in the world, in close collaboration with the national stakeholders and regional or international organizations.
In West Africa and the Sahel, the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) will continue to play a leading role in promoting good governance and building peace and security.
The organization and conduct of peaceful elections in the region are both a success to promote and a challenge to meet. The elected representatives have the huge responsibility for honoring their commitment and meeting people’s expectations. They have also the challenging task to do better than their predecessors in order to achieve of the political changeover wanted by the peoples of the region.
Mohamed Ibn Chambas
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel