As citizens from six West African countries head to the polls to elect new heads of state in 2015, key regional and international decision-makers have started laying the groundwork for an effective response plan to address anticipated electoral challenges and risks.
The one-day meeting, taking place on Friday, November 28th at OSIWA’s office in Dakar, will assess the specific threats linked to the voting process in Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea and Burkina Faso next year.
“We are quite concerned that elections in 2015 will end in violence, because many of these countries are in post-crisis phases,” explains Mathias Hounkpe, Political Governance Program Manager at the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA). “Some, like Benin and Nigeria, will take place in an environment of heated tension and insecurity, while others, like Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire, are still struggling to consolidate their democracies post-conflict.”
West Africa has captured the international news spotlight for many months now, following the Ebola outbreak in March and the recent political upheaval in Burkina Faso. While next year is poised to be a historic year in the evolution of the region’s political landscape, there are many key challenges on the horizon.
“Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire are probably the two countries we are most concerned about next year,” continues Hounkpe. “Nigeria has the continent’s largest economy, which means any disruptions here affect us all. This, coupled with the insecurity of Boko Haram and the “third” presidential run by Goodluck Jonathan, make it a tenuous electoral environment from the onset. In Cote d’Ivoire, well, anything can happen. And given its geographic position, between the very fragile Mano River Union countries, means we need to be very conscious of spillover effects should events turn violent.”
The main objectives of this stakeholder meeting, organized by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Crisis Group and OSIWA in collaboration with la Direction de la paix, de la democratie et des droits de l’homme (DDHDP), will be to use on-the-ground research to highlight the country-specific challenges and risks; to create a space of dialogue between diplomatic representatives, international organizations, civil society, researchers, analysts and the media; and to identify complementary action plans on a national, regional and international level.
Get more stuff like this
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.