Following Togo where presidential elections were held last February, five more presidential elections are planned in Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Niger.
These elections are a major opportunity to continue the efforts undertaken for decades to strengthen democratic institutions, consolidate peace, and promote development. However, it must be noted that they are also a source of political tensions, and even – regrettably – all too often a source of violence and crises that threaten social cohesion and stability, not only in the concerned countries, but also in the sub region.
Violence against a backdrop of divisions, hate speech, and human rights violations should no longer be a mean of resolving disputes relating to electoral processes.
That time has passed. Only consultation, dialogue and consensus, supported by a responsible and inclusive approach, can help shape lasting solutions in the interest of all.
To help achieve this purpose, we have recently undertaken joint missions with ECOWAS and the AU to Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire.
This regional approach to conflict prevention demonstrates the commitment of the three entities to the peaceful resolution of disputes, and their commitment to pooling their efforts to better support and encourage the various actors involved in the electoral process to work for peace.
In a context marked by the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to threaten the lives of millions of people and severely affect the economies of the countries of the sub region, it is necessary to mobilize to ensure that these elections are truly synonymous with democratic progress for the sub region.
All the interlocutors we met during our joint missions, particularly women and youth, were unanimous in expressing their commitment to peace and non-violence.
Together, let us mobilize more so that this becomes a reality, and so that women and young people can play an effective role in peacebuilding and development, as affirmed in the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary on 31 October.
Source: UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel