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ECOWAS President Ouedraogo’s Message to Guinean Women

The ECOWAS Commission President Kadre Desire Ouedraogo has challenged the women of Guinea to take their political destiny into their own hands by coming together always and working in harmony as change agents for the delivery of democratic dividends to the generality of the people of Guinea.

The Women are also expected to continue to be watch dogs of democracy and civil liberties at post- election periods.

Supported by the head of the ECOWAS election observers Mission to Guinea & former president of Liberia, professor Amos Sawyer, president Ouedraogo gave the charge when he paid precipitate visits to the Situation Rooms of the Committee of women and daughters of Guinea, the election watch dog Centres of civil societies of Guinea as well as of the ambassadors of ECOWAS member states accredited to Guinea. 

Impressed by the way the women had taken up tasks during the Guinean election including the matter of protection of women rights and gender sensitivity, Ouedraogo said to them: “For your courage and your laudable efforts in all what you are doing, ECOWAS will continue to support you for your future activities. We will have meetings with other observers and take into account the observations you have already made. And as you do this, ECOWAS will continue to stand by you.”

The ECOWAS Commission president was of the opinion that this kind of initiative deepens democracy. Similarly, Professor Sawyer described the women Situation Room as a model in Africa. 

The women are generally involved in the promotion of peace, democracy and good governance. The coalition is regarded as the voice of women of the country. They were also helping with Ebola sensitization at polling stations. 

Through the pre and post-election periods in Guinea, the Committee maintained a Situation Room styled after community collation election observatory and monitoring Centre which collating on-field electoral information and observed lapses. They received the first set of computers in 2013 just before the legislative elections of that year. Its Director Dr. Makali Traore said while giving a tour of the Centre’s facilities, that their work focuses on monitoring whether the practice of electioneering, voting and counting of ballot meet the regulations of the country’s electoral code. Reports are then promptly made to Electoral body and other stakeholders whenever and wherever anomalies are detected. 

“In Guinea, there is saying which goes thus: The voice of the woman plays a great role in bringing about peace. We the women of Guinea believe that we are in the middle of peace and so we come together under the umbrella of the coalition to draw attention to the challenges women face during elections and how to surmount same…When we observed the political situation in Guinea, we decided to come together” She added.

The ECOWAS Mission had intensive and very engaging meetings with the Guinean Civil Society Groups who are working with what has been termed Village-Electoral-Method. The groups are being supported by the president of the Guinean Economic and Social Council, ex-ministers, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), The UK Department for International Development (DFID) Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA), The National Democratic Institute (NDI), Search for Common Ground among others. 

Speaking on behalf of the civil society coalition, Sylla Aboubcar Markala said they would not leave any stone unturned to ensure that the election was credible while post-election issues are not swept under the carpet. 

The Situation Room of ECOWAS Member States Heads of Mission in the office of the Permanent Representative of the ECOWAS Commission president was also visited where the Senegalese ambassador to Guinea and Dean of Diplomatic Corps Leopold Diouf spoke of the need for ECOWAS to remain sensitive to the needs of member countries.

Professor Sawyer and Ouedraogo observed the election procedures as well as vote count at the Dixinn Port voting Centres 1 and 2 in Cisseyah as well as Gabourouya, including the Nongo Taady polling station in Ratoma, late into the night.   

ECOWAS declaration on the election is arrived at after rigorous checks while comparing with main streams of the work sister observers as well as the civil societies’ coalition.

In all, ECOWAS believes that there are no perfect elections and urges all parties follow the due process of the law and of the holding country’s constitution if challenges of the results are to be made while also taking into account the full set of issues and full spectrum of activities connected to the election.

ECOWAS wishes to use its reports to ensure that the right lessons are by all and for improvements in future elections.

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