UN official urges troubled West African States to learn from Guinea poll
The successful elections that put Guinea back on the path to democracy last month is an example that other West African countries facing political instability can emulate, a senior United Nations official said today, presenting to the Security Council a report on peace and stability in the region.
“As the dust settles on a most demanding electoral process in Guinea and a new legitimate president is about to assume office, it is appropriate to commend the Guinean people and leaders for this historic achievement,” Said Djinnit, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa, told the Council.
Guinea’s Supreme Court has certified the results of the run-off presidential election held on 7 November in which the victor, Alpha Conde, was pitted against the country’s former Prime Minister, Cellou Dalein Diallo, who conceded defeat.
The run-off poll followed the first round of the election in June, the final move by the interim Government’s efforts to restore democracy after Captain Moussa Dadis Camara seized power in a coup in 2008 after the death of long-time president Lansana Conté.
Mr. Djinnit, who is also the head of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA), said that efforts by the international community, regional organizations and the UN to restore stability in Guinea have “ultimately succeeded in pushing back the frontiers of political scepticism and despair in this country.”
Elsewhere in West Africa, however, challenges remain, Mr. Djinnit said.
“The situation in Niger continues to be a work in progress,” he said. “Evidence from the ground shows promising prospects for a swift return to constitutional order, despite a recent wave of high-profile arrests indicating divisions within the military leadership,” he told the Council.
In February, a military ruling council in Niger dissolved the Government, seized the president and suspended a contested constitution that would have allowed then President Mamadou Tandja to remain in power beyond the stipulated term.
In Mauritania, Mr. Djinnit told the Council, the Government has initiated dialogue with the opposition and expressed hope that the engagement will improve strained relations between political groups in the country.
In Togo, Mr. Djinnit reported that the situation remains tense since elections in March, but there is increasing awareness that the prevailing stalemate will not serve the cause of democracy and development in the country.
“I was especially encouraged, during my last mission in Togo, a few days ago, by the will expressed by key stakeholders to strengthen reconciliation,” he said.
Togo’s incumbent President Faure Gnassingbé was re-elected in the March race against challenger Jean-Pierre Fabre, who disputed the results, alleging irregularities in the vote count.
Violence had erupted in Togo after the sudden death of long-time president Gnassingbé Eyadéma, and disputed elections in 2005 left hundreds of people dead and thousands more wounded.