Togo polls: ECOWAS Observer Mission head meets stakeholders

Lome, Togo (PANA) - Head of ECOWAS Election Observation Mission to Togo Leopold Ouédraogo on Monday met in Lome with officials of Togo’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) and the NGO Goree Institute for Electoral Assistance as part of continuing consultations with stakeholders and pacification efforts ahead of the country’s 25th July Parliamentary elections.

Exchanging views with the CENI Chairperson Angele Aguigah Dola, Ambassador Ouédraogo, a member of the ECOWAS Council of the Wise, assured Togo’s political actors and the electorate of ECOWAS’ readiness to support and accompany the country in its electoral process as part of its objective to institutionalise democracy and good governance in the region.

The ECOWAS Commission quoted him as saying the ECOWAS observers were in Togo as neutral umpires and would submit their report on the process and conduct of the polls, bearing in mind the relevant national and regional electoral texts, such as the ECOWAS protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.

He highlighted efforts taken by ECOWAS to reconcile the political parties in the country towards ensuring a conducive atmosphere for peaceful, transparent and credible legislative elections, whose outcome is expected to impact on the presidential polls in 2015.

In her remarks, Madam Aguigah Dola told Ambassador Ouédraogo that the Electoral Commission had deployed officials and materials to all the regions in readiness for the polls.

She explained that the postponement of the polls, which were originally fixed for October and then moved to 21 July before the 25 July date, had given the Commission some advantage in logistics planning and implementation.

The chairperson also said that from reports available to the Commission, the polls would be peaceful.

Ambassador Ouédraogo repeated the same message of goodwill and peace to the citizens when he met with the Goree Institute officials.

The Institute, which has been in Togo for more than one year, assisting the country’s civil society on legislative and local elections matters, is deploying more than 1,000 observers across the country for the parliamentary polls, arguably the largest number by any organisation.

Ambassador Ouédraogo told the officials, including the Institute’s Executive Director Douduu Dia and the Head of its observer team Saidou Ba, that he and his delegation were at the Institute to exchange views and share useful information on the electoral process in Togo.

The Goree Institute officials reaffirmed the objective of the institute towards ensuring transparent and credible elections in West Africa.

More than 1,000 candidates from Togo’s ruling party and opposition coalitions, notably the “Save Togo Coalition” and Rainbow Coalition,” along with 14 independents, are vying for positions in the country’s 91-seat Parliament in the 25th July polls.

Some 3.3 million voters, more than half of the country’s estimated population of six million, were registered to cast their ballots in 7,600 voting centres across the nation’s five regions.

After threatening to boycott the polls over allegations of unfair delineation of the constituencies and uneven playing field among others, the opposition parties have agreed to participate following intervention by ECOWAS and other partners.
-0- PANA SEG 23July2013

23 july 2013 10:57:26

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