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Published On: Mon, Aug 5th, 2019

Buhari declares open ECOWAS electoral commissions symposium today

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President Buhari

By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja

The ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC), the umbrella organisation of Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) in West Africa, will hold its 6th Biennial General Assembly in Abuja, Nigeria between 6-7 August, 2019.

This will be preceded on Monday 5th August by an International Symposium on the Promotion of Inclusivity in the Electoral Process.

According to a statement by the Head of Communications, ECONEC, Mr Paul Ejime, the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari is expected to officially declare the symposium open.

Other dignitaries expected to grace the occasion include Nigeria’s Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan,  Speaker,  House  of Representatives,  Rt  Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, Vice-President  Finda   Koroma,   Secretary   General’s  Special   Representative  and Head of the UN Office in West Africa and the Sahel, Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, and the Head   of   the  European Union   Delegation   to   Nigeria   and ECOWAS,   Mr   Ketil Karlson.

The twin  events  is  organised  by   ECONEC in  collaboration  with the  Independent National   Electoral   Commission   (INEC),   Nigeria   and   the   European   Centre   for Electoral Support (ECES) with funding from the EU and the German Government.

The symposium will provide a platform to discuss the legal frameworks and desirable practical steps for enhancing the participation and representation of women, youth and Persons with Disability (PWDs) in the electoral process in West Africa.

The  ECOWAS  Commission  and  EMBs  in  West  Africa  set  up  ECONEC in  2008, among other objectives to promote free and credible elections; promote independent and impartial election organisations and administrators; strengthen public confidence in   the   electoral  process  through   free   and   credible   electoral  procedures, and   to develop a crop of professional election personnel with integrity, a strong sense ofpublic service and commitment to democracy.

The   other   objectives   are   to   bring  predictability   to   the   framework   for  elections; engender commitment to the promotion and consolidation of democratic culture to create   a  conducive environment   for   the  peaceful   organization   of   elections; encourage   the   sharing   of   experiences,   information, technology   and   election Documents  by EMBs and  cooperation  for the improvement of  electoral  laws  and practices.

The Network is also mandated to promote gradual harmonization of electoral laws and   practices,  as   appropriate,  capitalizing   on  good   practice   in   electoral   matters; rationalization and pooling of resources to reduce the cost of conducting elections; and to   improve   the   working   conditions   of   its   members   in the   fulfilment   of   their mandate.

After several years of difficult existence due to poor funding and lack of a functional Secretariat, the ECONEC governing board elected in March 2017 at its 5th General Assembly  in   Cotonou,  Benin Republic,   has  managed  to  turn  the   fortunes  of  the Network around, raising its profile and visibility with demonstrable implementation of impactful activities.

The agenda of the 6th  General Assembly includes the election of a  board to replace the outgoing five-member team headed by Prof Mahmood Yakubu, Chair of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).


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