A global Affairs Analyst and Communication Specialist, Mr. Paul Ejime, has challenged governments of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS member States to improve on the processes for free, fair, and transparent elections in the region.
In a paper he delivered, at the 2023 International Conference of the ECOWAS Court of Justice Conference with the theme: ECOWAS Zero Tolerance for Unconstitutional Change of Government, in Banjul, the Gambia, Mr. Ejime described election as multi-stakeholder enterprise that requires every actor to play their parts effectively.
Mr. Ejime, who spoke on Lack of Free, Fair and Transparent Elections as a Key Source of Conflict: Holding ECOWAS Member States Accountable for their Treaty Obligations and the Sanctions Regime, lamented that in many cases, governments which are supposed to put in place the mechanisms for credible elections, often undermine the process for the selfish interests of politicians.
“It is important to note that the same stakeholders who should facilitate free, fair, and transparent elections can ultimately undermine the process by their conducts or disposition, actions/inactions,” Ejime said.
He also listed the other stakeholders who undermine electoral process to include Security Agencies, the Parliament, the Judiciary, Civil Society Organisations, the Media, the electorate, and Development partners.
He stated that the situation “has led to instability and the resurgence of military incursions in politics in the ECOWAS region”.
For electoral processes to succeed, he said stakeholders must play their part under defined rules of engagement in all stages of the electoral cycle – before, during, and post-election.
Mr. Ejime noted that “many of the Electoral Commissions in the region were anything but independent or autonomous because their members are appointed by the Government, and are, therefore, unable to resist political pressure from the government, or inducements by political parties, or candidates.
“No matter how free, fair, and transparent, elections alone cannot guarantee freedom, democracy, or good governance. Elections have been a significant source of violent conflicts and political instability in the ECOWAS region,” he added.
Presenters and participants at the four-day conference include Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General, eminent judges and lawyers from ECOWAS member states as well as experts in governance, constitution, human rights, and elections.