The Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) has expressed concern over the political circumstances that led to the postponement of Presidential Election in Senegal following uncertainty that surrounds the disqualification of several candidates from running in the elections.
In a statement made available on Sunday, the ECOWAS Commission called on the “competent authorities to expedite the various processes in order to set a new date for ECOWAS) has the elections.”
“The Commission further urges the entire political class to prioritize dialogue and collaboration for transparent, inclusive, and credible elections,” the statement added.
The Constitution Council that screened presidential aspirants has barred several prominent opposition figures from running which, after outcry and complaints, led President Macky Sall to postpone the election till further notice. The president already vowed to keep up with his promise not to run in the presidential election, a decision hailed by ECOWAS as a sign that the postponement of the election is not a ploy to prolong the president’s stay in power.
“The ECOWAS Commission salutes President Macky Sall for upholding his earlier decision not to run for another term, and encourages him to continue to defend and protect Senegal long-standing democratic tradition,” said the statement.
President Macky Sall defended his decision to postpone the election on February 3, saying “these troubled conditions could gravely hurt” the election and tarnish the image of the country which has never experienced military coup since it gained independence in 1960.
The president said the postponement will allow the government to engage in “an open national dialogue… to create the conditions for a free, transparent and inclusive election in a peaceful and reconciled Senegal”.
In a related development, Nigeria has expressed concern over the recent pronouncement by the military authority in the Republic of Niger indicating the withdrawal of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger (BMN) from the ECOWAS.
This was contained in a statement press signed by spokesperson for Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja, Mrs. Francisca K. Omayuli.
In the statement, Nigeria regretted the development while highlighting ECOWAS’s half-century-long commitment to promoting peace, prosperity, and democracy in the region.
Omayuli reaffirmed Nigeria’s solidarity with ECOWAS in upholding due process and protecting the rights and welfare of all citizens of member states.
She stated that despite Nigeria’s sincere efforts to engage with all members of the ECOWAS family to address challenges, it is evident that those seeking to exit the community lack the same goodwill. The statement emphasised the importance of respecting the sovereign right of people to make fundamental choices, including freedom of movement, trade, and choosing their leaders.
The Spokesperson assured that Nigeria remains open to engaging with Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger to ensure that the region continues to benefit from the economic and democratic values embraced by ECOWAS. Additionally, Nigeria called upon the international community to continue supporting ECOWAS and its vision of closer partnership, cooperation, and integration.
Part of the statement read: “Nigeria has worked sincerely and in good faith to reach out to all members of the ECOWAS family to resolve the difficulties being faced. It is now clear that those seeking to quit the Community do not share that same good faith. Instead, unelected leaders engage in a public posturing to deny their people the sovereign right to make fundamental choices over their freedom of movement, freedom to trade and freedom to choose their own leaders.
Nigeria remains open for engagement with Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger so that all the people of the region can continue to enjoy the economic benefits and democratic values that ECOWAS embraces. Nigeria further appeals to the International Community to continue to extend its support for ECOWAS and the vision of closer partnership, co-operation and integration.”