Sheriff Mahmud Ismail: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 February 2023:
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) mandate of elections observation in Nigeria ended yesterday, after closing of polls. And now the hard task of conducting “Preventive Diplomacy” has started, led by Sierra Leone’s former president Ernest Bai Koroma.
This means that the ECOWAS mission headed by the former president of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, along with his assistant, Ghana’s former High Commissioner to Nigeria, Amb Baba Kamara, will now focus its efforts on promoting dialogue, encourage adherence to the procedures relating to the official declaration of elections results. Where necessary, the Mission will mediate and negotiate any disagreements that may emerge among the parties’ leaders.
The ECOWAS mission heads will be assisted in this important task by the President and vice President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Umar Alieu Touray, Mrs Damtien Tchintchibioja, as well as the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace & Security, Amb. Dr Abdel- Fatau Musah.
Together, the leaders will collaborate with the heads of other international elections observation missions, former Nigerian heads of states, civil society, the international community among others.
“Political disputes, if and when they occur must be resolved in the courts rather than on the streets; ECOWAS will remain steadfast and will collaborate with other stakeholders in our collective efforts to ensure a smooth and peaceful transition in Nigeria,” said former President Koroma.
Every stakeholder is keen on contributing to a peaceful, stronger and more prosperous Nigeria post elections.
Today Sunday as counting progresses and voting continues in some parts of the country after delays, Heads of Missions of International observers have shared polling day observations, hosted by the – Former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Co-chaired by ECOWAS Observer Mission Head – Former president of Sierra Leone – Ernest Bai Koroma. Missions represented were – the AU, ECOWAS, the Commonwealth, the EU, UNOWAS, Ireland and the British High Commission.
Ernest Bai Koroma has separately received in audience the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Wendy Campbell Laing, and the Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel – Madam Giovanie Bihi, who is the Acting head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel.
Both ‘closed door’ meetings, which took place today Sunday, February 26, 2023 at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja, Nigeria, are part of ECOWAS’s shift in mandate mediating the peaceful resolution of electoral disputes and peaceful transition of power.
As public and elections stakeholders complain of slowness in the most anticipated real time upload of result on INEC’s Portal, former African Presidents leading international elections observer missions, this afternoon convened a closed-door consultation meeting to review the situation, agree on their next steps and explore possible interventions in their pursuit of peace and a smooth transition in Nigeria.
(Photo above: From L-R: Former Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta (AU), Former President of Sierra Leonean Ernest Bai Koroma, Former South African President Thabo Mbeke, and the only lady in the room- Former President of Malawi, Joyce Banda).
ECOWAS Situation Room Updates
To underpin the effectiveness of the Mission’s preventive diplomacy component in this very fluid situation, it is imperative that the ECOWAS’ HoM, H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma and team, are provided with adequate, accurate and up-to-date information of what is obtaining on the ground across the country.
Team Leads of various ECOWAS observers deployed in the regions have therefore been linked up to the Situation Room at the ECOWAS Secretariat in Abuja to brief the delegation. Take a listen: