Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas ECOWAS Executive Secretary has said the regional organization will field up to 150 observers and monitors in the forthcoming elections in Togo next week. Another team will be dispatched to Guinea Bissau for that country's presidential election of June 2005. These are measures to ensure credible elections which alone is a guarantee for stability.
Dr. Chambas who made this known at the Ambassador Andrew Young Lecture Series in Washington, DC said, this was part of the establishment of an Elections Unit within ECOWAS that will work with member states in building credible institutions for the conduct of elections and evolving democratic systems.
The annual lecture organized by the Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa in collaboration with the Embassy of Ghana in Washington, DC was under the theme: The ECOWAS Agenda: Promoting Good Governance and Regional Economic Integration in West Africa.
According to Dr. Chambas, ECOWAS was seriously building on this election unit after the organization through its Council of Elders and West African Civil Society organizations succeeded in working out monitoring strategies in Sierra Leone in 2002, Mali in the same year, Benin in 2003, and Ghana and Niger in 2004. In all these, he said, the elections were freely and fairly conducted.
ECOWAS, which celebrates its 30th year of creation, according to Dr. Chambas, “is repositioning itself to be able to better deliver on the dreams of our founding fathers with the renewed vision of our current leadership and the partnership being forged between government institutions and civil society.”
While the creation of the ECOWAS Parliament and the Community Court of Justice show great political will for democracy in the sub region, the region also has 12 of its 15 member organization being classified, according to the human development index on the UNDP, on the list of the poorest countries in the world.
Dr. Chambas made it known that the Millennium Development Goals for which ECOWAS committed itself would not be achieved by way of halving poverty by 2015. These he attributed to the current growth rates and other challenges such as ECOWAS small or domestic markets (with trade among members being between 12 to 14 percent of global trade); huge debt burden notwithstanding HIPC; under developed industrial sector and in recent times, the soaring price of oil in the world market.
The lecture which coincided with the Spring World Bank meeting was chaired by Ambassador Fritz Poku, Ghana's Ambassador to the US and attended by the Ghana delegation to the World Bank meeting which included Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Hon. Kwadwo Baah Wiredu, Trade and Industry Minister, Mr. Alan Kyerematen and members of the Washington Diplomatic Community.