Democracy is constant process of deliberation, consultation – UN official

Top United Nations  official in West Africa Mohamed Ibn Chambas said on Monday at the Security Council that elections were one-time events, whereas ”democracy is a constant process of deliberation and consultation”.

Chambas, who is the Special Representative and Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), said this while presenting a report to the Security Council against the backdrop of five presidential, three legislative, and two local elections which have taken place in the region in recent months.

He told the council that electoral management bodies in the region had “demonstrated impressive technical capacity to organise and conduct elections.”

Presenting the latest report on West Africa and the Sahel from the secretary-general, the UN envoy highlighted the presidential election in Burkina Faso, saying that “dialogue between political actors led to a unanimously accepted outcome, with the losing contenders congratulating President Roch Marc Christian Kabore for his second term and committing to work together to tackle insecurity.”

In Ghana, Chambas said that elections were non-violent overall and commended the peaceful poll in Niger on Nov. 27, which will “usher in the country’s first-ever democratic transition from one elected head of state to another.”

The special representative cited ongoing efforts in the Gambia to promote dialogue among political parties toward constitutional reform and lauded discussions in Cote d’Ivoire to rebuild national cohesion despite electoral turmoil.

Throughout, he told the Council that “UNOWAS worked hand-in-hand” with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union and other international partners.

After 20 years in Guinea-Bissau, Chambas said the Dec. 31 closing of the UN field mission there, called UNIOGBIS, marked “an auspicious moment” for the country.

Against the backdrop of a year of multiple challenges triggered by the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), Chambas noted that most countries of the region had been plunged into recession and resources had been diverted from productive investments and the fight against insecurity.

He said that while vaccines were being distributed as the region faced a second wave of COVID-19, “it is ever more important that we collaborate to apply the manifold lessons learnt in terms of improving governance and delivering essential services for societies to emerge more adept, secure, and resilient.”

Besides the challenges, he commended ECOWAS and its member states for their overall handling of the pandemic. 

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