Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration designate, has led a delegation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Pre-Election Mission to Benin.
The visit is in line with ECOWAS Preventive Diplomacy mandate and electoral assistance to Member States, ahead of presidential elections scheduled to take place on 11th April 2021.
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey, who is also the Chairman of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers was accompanied by Dr Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission; Mrs Halima Ahmed, Commissioner in-charge of Finance at the ECOWAS Commission; Mr Blaise Diplo-Djomand, the Resident Representative of the ECOWAS Commission in Benin, as well as ECOWAS technical staff.
A statement issued by the ECOWAS Commission, copied to the Ghana News Agency, said the Pre-Election Mission was in accordance with ECOWAS’ mandate to promote peace, stability and the consolidation of democracy in West Africa.
It said the Mission was in line with the ECOWAS Additional Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance of 2001, particularly with regard to the provisions related to conflict prevention.
It said the objective of the Mission was to exchange views with the main Beninese electoral stakeholders to assess the level of preparation of the institutions and socio-political actors to ensure the conduct of an inclusive, free, fair, transparent, credible and peaceful presidential election.
The statement said the Mission met with key stakeholders, including the President of the Constitutional Court, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Minister of Interior and Security, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission (CENA) and the Chairman of the Supervision and Orientation Council for the Permanent electronic voting list (COS-LEPI).
It said the Mission also met a delegation of the ruling Party and its affiliate, a delegation of political parties from the opposition and representatives of civil society.
It noted that the Mission further met members of the diplomatic corps and the representatives of the international community accredited to Benin.
It said the Mission took note of the political reforms undertaken by the Government of Benin to facilitate the electoral process and welcomed the overall progress made in that regard.
This included, in particular, the publication of the electoral calendar, the registration of candidates, the transmission of the electoral list to the COS-LEPI by the CENA and the publication in the coming days of a provisional shortlist of candidates at CENA level.
The statement said the Mission was informed of the attempted assassination of one of the presumed candidates in the presidential election and also on the ongoing investigations.
It said the Mission encouraged the authorities to continue with the investigations, in order to shed light on the conditions of the attack and sanction the perpetrators.
“The Mission calls on all parties to avoid hate speech that incite violence and create a climate of tension,” it said.
“The Mission urges all socio-political actors to engage in dialogue in order to create conducive conditions for the conduct of credible and inclusive elections and thus strengthen the climate of peace in the country.”
The statement said the Mission renewed the support of ECOWAS to the people and authorities of Benin and announced the deployment of an electoral observation mission for the presidential election of April 11.