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ECOWAS Seeks Means For Conflict-Free 2019 Elections

Continues engagement with Nigerian political stakeholders

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The second of five workshops planned by the ECOWAS Commission for Nigerian political actors and civil society groups on the use of dialogue and mediation as tools for preventing and mitigating election-related disputes and conflicts opens on Tuesday, 9th October, in Benin City, capital of Edo State, in the country’s South-South geo-political zone.

The engagement in Benin City, is a follow-up to the first held in Jos, Plateau State, in the North-central zone, with those for the North-West, South-East and South-West coming up before the end of the year.

The ECOWAS Commission, in collaboration with the Abuja-based Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) and the Swedish-based Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA), has lined up the workshops to strengthen the capacity of key Nigerian political stakeholders in efforts at prevention and mitigation of potential pre- and post-election-related disputes/violence, so as to ensure peaceful electoral outcomes.

According to the ECOWAS Directorate of Political Affairs (DPA), the organizers, participants include representatives of traditional and faith-based organizations, civil society organizations, representatives of governmental platforms involved in dialogue and mediation processes, as well as Women and Youth organizations.

Specific goals of the engagements include, creating the opportunity for participants to appreciate the ECOWAS normative principles and frameworks for transparent and peaceful elections, and the organization’s commitment to using dialogue and mediation in resolving electoral disputes and conflicts.

Others are providing a forum for participants to brainstorm and identify contending issues around the forthcoming elections and the possible role they could play in mitigating potential electoral violence before, during and after the elections; and to sustain and enhance ECOWAS’ strategic engagement with the political process in Nigeria.

The Dialogue and Mediation Handbook, developed by the ECOWAS Commission, is being used to facilitate the workshops, with participants expected to acquire practical techniques and skills for dialogue and mediation as important tools for the management of electoral conflicts through role-plays and simulation exercises, the organizers said.

Speaking during the opening of the first workshop in Jos last month, the Governor of Plateau State, H.E. Simon Bako Lalong commended the ECOWAS initiative as a timely intervention, ahead of Nigeria’s crucial general elections in 2019.

Recognizing that electoral disputes have become a major source of conflicts in West Africa, the ECOWAS Commission and partners have organized similar workshops in other Member States, including before recent elections in Liberia (2017), Sierra Leone and Mali (2018), and also ahead of the crucial legislative polls in Guinea Bissau.

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