UN-backed meeting on West African polls wraps up with call on electoral laws

20 May 2011

UN-backed meeting on West African polls wraps up with call on electoral laws

20 May 2011 -

The list of eligible voters and the development of electoral laws are critical to determining the ultimate success of the poll and it is therefore vital that the process of drafting each of them is done with as much consultation as possible, a United Nations-backed conference on elections in West Africa concluded today.

The three-day conference, held in Praia, Cape Verde, wrapped up with a declaration containing a series of recommendations for boosting stability and improving the quality of elections in the region – where voters in many countries are scheduled to cast their ballots in elections staged between now and 2013.

Said Djinnit, the head of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA), told the UN News Centre that participants at the conference – which brought together representatives of governments, electoral authorities, security forces, media organizations and civil society groups – identified the framing of the electoral code as a key moment in the election process.

“If the electoral code is not shared by all the stakeholders there exists the risks of challenges to the results. Compiling the electoral list [of voters] is a moment of fragility” as well, he said.

Mr. Djinnit said the role played by security forces and the media was also essential to a successful election, and he stressed the need for all stakeholders in an election process to be given equal access to the media.

“Participants indicated the need to develop the consensus necessary for the organizations that organize to increase the chances for all parties to accept the election results.”

The participants discussed the examples of many recent polls, including those in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Niger, Nigeria and Benin, to identify success stories and lessons to be learned.

The conference was jointly organized by UNOWA and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).