Using a combination of diplomacy and muscle, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) forced longtime Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to cede power this month to challenger Adama Barrow, who won the nation’s general election. Neighboring Senegal amassed troops and threatened to remove Jammeh by force. Regional powerhouse Nigeria threatened to help. The presidents of Mauritania and Guinea conducted shuttle diplomacy between Gambia’s capital of Banjul and Senegal, where Barrow had fled. Jammeh finally agreed to go into exile on January 20. Despite the successful outcome, some question the wisdom of ECOWAS intervening on behalf of the people of the Gambia.
Ivory Coast’s election commission is expected to announce Tuesday the first results from an election that was widely expected to give President Alassane Ouattara another term in office. The commission has already estimated turnout from Sunday’s vote at around 60 percent, though a civil society group put the figure at 53 percent. The opposition National Coalition for Change expressed further doubts about the turnout, saying many Ivorians stayed home and fewer than 20 percent actually voted.
New and more inclusive elections in November have been proposed as military leaders said the general behind the coup will lead the country during the transitional period. The proposed plan will be taken up Tuesday in Abuja, Nigeria, by West African member states of the regional bloc known as Ecowas. The announcement by Senegal’s President Macky Sall comes after a day fraught with tensions that began with an attack by pro-coup demonstrators and elite presidential guard soldiers on the hotel hosting the talks. Earlier in the day, angry protesters had clashed outside the hotel where negotiations were taking place, with some shouting: “No to Diendere! No to military rule!”
Mediators in Burkina Faso’s political crisis proposed new and more inclusive elections in November, though the military that seized power in a coup last week indicated Sunday it still wants its general to lead the country during any transitional period. That could prove to be a serious sticking point after a draft agreement was released late Sunday following two days of talks led by the presidents of Senegal and Benin. The proposed plan will be taken up Tuesday in Abuja, Nigeria, by West African member states of the regional bloc known as ECOWAS. Senegalese President Macky Sall, who helped lead the weekend talks, said the draft was the result of discussions with all parties. “We have two ways out here: The first one is through peace…that will lead to an end of the crisis through fair and democratic elections,” Mr. Sall said, adding that the other route would lead to “chaos.”
Prior to earlier concerns of a bloated electoral register, Major Stakeholders in Togo’s elections say they are satisfied with the cleaning process and are ready to go to the Polls on Saturday April 25. They expressed the satisfaction when ECOWAS Chair President John Mahama, met with them in a follow up visit to ascertain their level of preparedness.
All of Togo’s presidential candidates have agreed on an updated but still “imperfect” voter roll, removing an obstacle that had forced a delay in the election that will now take place on April 25, election officials said on Wednesday. “The current state of the election list is good enough for the 2015 vote,” said Siaka Sangare, a Malian former general working for the International Organization of la Francophonie (OIF). The French-speaking nations group has worked with election organizers to address opposition complaints that election lists included numerous duplicates, potentially favoring President Faure Gnassingbe.
Observers from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS on Monday said Guinea-Bissau’s weekend election was free and fair, and called on international donors to restart cooperation suspended in the wake of a 2012 coup. Bissau-Guineans flocked to the polls in large numbers on Sunday to vote in long-delayed legislative and presidential polls meant to bring stability to the former Portuguese colony after years of putsches and political infighting. No elected president has completed a five-year term in Guinea-Bissau, which has become a major transit point for smugglers ferrying Latin American cocaine to Europe. “The election was conducted according to international standards and the election was peaceful, free, fair and transparent,” the ECOWAS observer mission said in a statement.
The observer mission of the West African regional bloc ECOWAS has said Sunday’s legislative election in Mali met ‘globally-acceptable standards’. “The shortcomings observed did not in any significant way affect the conduct of the election in line with globally acceptable standards. Though not intended, the disenfranchisement of some young voters and some electorate in the insecure north, as well as the low turn-out in the elections, are regrettable,” the ECOWAS Election Observation Mission said in a preliminary declaration made available to PANA here Tuesday by the ECOWAS Commission. The 100-member mission, led by Prof. Amos Sawyer, former President of Liberia’s Government of National Unity, noted that the processes and conduct of stakeholders on Election Day showed “a marked improvement” over the Presidential elections of July/August, including the timely arrival of electoral officials, early delivery of essential materials and the orderly conduct of voters.
Togo’s main opposition on Monday rejected provisional electoral results showing the ruling party winning two-thirds of parliamentary seats, allowing the president’s family to maintain its decades-long grip on power. The main opposition coalition, Let’s Save Togo, had alleged irregularities even before full results in Togo’s parliamentary elections were announced by the electoral commission on Sunday night. Agbeyome Kodjo, a key figure in Let’s Save Togo, on Monday called the vote and results a “sham”. “It’s an electoral sham amid massive corruption and proven electoral fraud,” Kodjo, a former prime minister whose OBUTS party joined with Let’s Save Togo for the elections, told AFP. The West African nation’s constitutional court must still approve the results from Thursday’s election before they become final.
The small West African nation of Togo is holding legislative elections on Thursday amid signs voters are increasingly fed up with the ruling party. Analysts say in order to win, though, the opposition will have to overcome its own divisions, as well as an electoral system vulnerable to fraud. Negotiations over how the election would be run continued until just a few weeks ago, and major opposition parties refused to confirm until recently that they would participate. On Tuesday, the final day of campaigning, however, all the major parties staged rallies in Togo’s capital, Lome, expressing confidence about their chances.