UNOWAS Magazine #8 (June 2019) : « Peaceful elections »

Two major countries in West Africa and the Sahel conducted peaceful presidential elections, despite a postponement of the election date in one and some incidents in the other. These countries are Senegal and Nigeria.

Major countries by their geostrategic position, their economic and political vitality, their history, but also and above all, by the determination of both populations to achieve a better future through a responsible, free and peaceful vote. 

This quiet force, which also flows through other countries in the sub-region, speaks volumes about political maturity

This quiet force, which also flows through other countries in the sub-region, speaks volumes about political maturity, especially among young people, and about the engagement of all social categories in electoral processes.

Other countries in the sub-region will hold presidential and legislative elections by the end of this year and early next year. They will undoubtedly mark an important step in the consolidation of democracy in Africa. They will also provide an opportunity to initiate new social projects that are likely to meet the expectations of the populations.

But these expectations are so high that elections polarize tensions and produce, in some cases, violence. This shows the importance of everyone’s commitment to elections that respect the laws and constitutions in force. This also highlights the importance of the role of all actors in maintaining social cohesion and peace.

Looking at the mobilization of youth during the presidential elections in Senegal and Nigeria, and their active participation as voters, but also as members of civil society organizations, such as the “Not Too Young to Run”  campaign, which aimed to reduce the age limit for running for elections in Nigeria and around the world, we are entitled to expect that African youth will have an increasingly prominent role in the conduct of elections, and ultimately in the consolidation of democracy. 

Despite a security context marked by the persistent threat of Boko Haram, the dialogue and peace initiatives held before the presidential elections in Nigeria, for example, demonstrated the determination of national and local authorities and all actors to sensitize voters to ensure that the election takes place in peace and with respect for the other parties.

In Senegal, the country of “teranga“, calls for calm by national authorities, political actors and civil society organisations after some incidents observed during the election campaign, also showed the mobilization of all to ensure a peaceful election.

As the sub-region prepares for another round of presidential elections, it is important to recall that each citizen, each institution must play its full role in ensuring peaceful, free and democratic elections. 

The elected candidates will be responsible for implementing their development programs. They will also have an obligation to meet the expectations of their citizens.