By Victoria Ojeme
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) election monitoring group in Niger has condemned the flagrant disregard for COVID-19 protocols by electors in Niger Republic.
Almost 7.5 million people cast their vote on Sunday to choose a successor to President Mahamadou Issoufou who is stepping down after two five-year terms leading the country of 23 million.
ECOWAS Observation Mission in its preliminary statement obtained in French and translate by VANGUARD into English on Tuesday, December 29 in Niamey noted the there was massive youth and women voters turn-out in the polls.
President Muhammadu Buhari had pledged Nigeria’s support to the election processes in Niger Republic arguing that his hometown of Daura is just a few kilometres away from the country.
“Also, we share more than 1,400 kilometers of border with that country, which can only be effectively supervised by God. I will speak with the President, and offer his country our support. We need to do all we can to help stabilize the Sahel region, which is also in our own interest,” President Buhari said.
Former Vice President, Namadi Sambo is also heading ECOWAS Election Mission to the West African country.
EOM was deployed by ECOWAS as part of the presidential and legislative elections on Sunday December 27, 2020 in Niger.
The report was released after the meeting that took place this Monday, December 28 between ECOWAS and other international organizations that have deployed observers in Niamey.
This meeting was attended by HE Namadi SAMBO, former Vice-President of Nigeria and Head of the EOM of ECOWAS, HE Mr. Ould M’BARECK, former Prime Minister of Mauritania and Head of the EOM of the African Union, Mrs. Yama TSEGAN, President of the National Assembly of Togo and Head of the EOM of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), and Mr. Moudjib JINABU, Director of Political Affairs at the United Nations Representation for Africa in West and Sahel (UNOWAS) in Niger.
During this consultation, the Heads of EOMs deployed in Niger unanimously welcomed the peaceful and participatory nature of the double ballot on Sunday, December 27, 2020.
They noted the strong influx of women and young people, and noted the effective presence of the security forces. security at the polling stations.
They nevertheless deplored the non-compliance with barrier measures against COVID-19 in polling centers, in particular the wearing of masks, the use of hydro-alcoholic gels and social distancing, yet advocated by the Nigerien authorities.
Monday’s meeting also saw the presence of Professor Mahmud YAKUB, President of the Electoral Commission of Nigeria and Kabinet CISSE, President of the Electoral Commission of Guinea.
They are all members of the West African Election Commissions network. They also came on a mission to Niamey to provide assistance to Maître Issaka SOUNA, President of the National Electoral Commission of Niger (CENI), so that the electoral process takes place in the best conditions.
Speaking at the end of the proceedings, General Francis BEHANZIN, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security of the ECOWAS Commission, recalled that the preliminary statement is the compilation of the reports of the observers deployed in the field.
It contains the observations made on the ground during the conduct of the votes, as well as the recommendations for all the actors involved in the electoral process.