The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas is urging ECOWAS governments to “to seek consensual and genuinely inclusive ways of addressing any disruptions to electoral schedules” occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He says it is crucial to seek consensual and genuinely inclusive ways of addressing any electoral schedules disruptions given the potential impact of the coronavirus pandemic on upcoming electoral processes.
Guinea has presidential elections in October; Côte d’Ivoire has general elections on October 31; Burkina Faso has legislative and presidential elections on November 22 while Ghana has general elections on December 7.
Chambas made the recommendation in a statement he issued Thursday to the Extraordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government on COVID-19, held via video conference, which among other things, urged governments to take all necessary steps to put the most vulnerable, including women and youth at the centre of decision making and ensure their meaningful participation in the process.
While commending the leadership, solidarity and sense of urgency that governments have demonstrated since the spread of the pandemic into the region as central to an effective response at the national and regional levels in the short, medium and long term, he said the measures, even though necessary under the circumstances “are having a toll on our populations.”
“This is even more relevant given that we are now seeing an increase in community transmissions which will require a community approach with the support of traditional, religious and civic leaders. The togetherness by all actors at the national level to fight the threats posed by this pandemic has been remarkable thus far. It is my fervent hope that in the same spirit, we shall be able to address other prevailing challenges to our respective states such as sustainable development, insecurity and democratic consolidation which may be exacerbated by this pandemic.”
Dr Chambas also assured the meeting of the unflinching support of the UN, pointing out the assistance provided by the World Health Organisation and other UN entities being complemented by several actions undertaken by the Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres.
“He has launched a $2 billion global humanitarian response plan to support the world’s poorest countries fight against COVID-19 and called for an immediate ceasefire in conflict areas to ease the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable to COVID-19.
“He has also been advocating for more international solidarity, in terms of financial aid and exchange of expertise as well as debt relief for African countries”, he said.