Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Chair of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been elected President of the new five-member Board of the 15-nation ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) for the next two years.
In a poll held during ECONEC’s 5th biennial General Assembly meeting in Cotonou, the economic capital Benin Republic on Wednesday, 29 March, 2017, the Chair of Benin Republic’s Electoral Commission Mr. Emmanuel Tiando also emerged 1st Vice President. His Guinea-Bissau counterpart, Mr. Jose Pedro Sambu, was elected 2nd Vice President, while Mr. Newton Barry of Burkina Faso clinched the position of ECONEC Treasurer, with his counterpart from Cabo Verde Ms Maria do Rosario Goncalves elected deputy Treasurer.
The new board takes over from the outgoing one headed by Mali’s Gen. Siaka Sangare.
In his post-election speech, Prof Yakubu thanked his colleagues for their support and pledged his and INEC’s commitment to reposition ECONEC, in the ECOWAS spirit of solidarity and cooperation among the Network member States.
In accordance with its constitutive statute, ECONEC’s headquarters is hosted by the ECOWAS Electoral Assistance Division (EAD), within the Department of Political Affairs Peace and Security in Abuja, with Mr. Francis Oke, Head of EAD as the its Executive Secretary.
The Network was set up in 2008 to foster cooperation and experience sharing among member States and to support ECOWAS in the realisation of its mandate of regional integration and the promotion of electoral processes with integrity for the deepening of democracy in the region.
In handing over the mantle of leadership, Gen. Sangare, who had headed ECONEC in an acting capacity, thanked ECOWAS and development partners, especially the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) for their invaluable support.
He underlined financial constraint as the Network’s major challenge and called for measures to address the problem and make the institution effective and efficient, and its activities sustainable.
The President of ECONEC’s pioneer board, Burkina Faso’s Michel Tapsoba, was succeeded by Sierra Leone’s Christiana Thope (2012-2015), and then Mali’s Gen. Sangare.
The election of the new board, observed by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs. Halima Ahmed, was on the margin of the just-ended International Workshop on A Decade of ECOWAS Electoral Assistance and Promotion of Democracy in West Africa: Lessons Learned and Challenges, which was attended by all the ECOWAS Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs), except Ghana.
The workshop produced a Cotonou Declaration on the improvement of electoral processes and entrenchment of democracy in West Africa, at the behest of the ECOWAS Commission’s President H.E. Marcel de Souza, who officially opened the Conference on Monday.