ABUJA, Nigeria, November 22, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Head of ECOWAS Election Observation Mission, Prof. Amos Sawyer has appealed for peaceful parliamentary polls in Mali on Sunday to consolidate the progress made towards the restoration of constitutional order and the country’s territorial integrity.
Speaking to journalists shortly after his arrival in Bamako on Thursday 21st November 2013, Prof. Sawyer, former President of Liberia’s Interim Government of National Unity, who is leading 100 ECOWAS observers urged Malian political parties, the electorate and other stakeholders to replicate the political maturity they demonstrated during the recent successful presidential elections in the country.
He explained that ECOWAS attached great importance to the parliamentary election in demonstration of its determination to accompany Mali along the process of ending its political transition facilitated by the regional organization following the country’s political and security crises.
“That is the reason we are here because what happens in Mali affects everyone in our region,” said the Head of Mission, who was received by Ambassador Aboudou Toure Cheaka, ECOWAS Commission President’s Special Representative to Mali.
He urged Malians to turn out massively to elect members of the147-seat National Assembly from the more than 1,100 contending candidates.
The Head of Mission said the regional observers would be deployed to all the country’s eight regions, with the UN Mission, MINUSMA offering to assist with the airlift of observers to the northern regions of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu.
He commended President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita for his government’s commitment to national reconciliation, noting that Mali was on the right path to regaining its prime position and role in the region.
Later at a briefing for the observers, Prof. Sawyer urged them to maintain neutrality, and demonstrate a high sense of professionalism with strict adherence to regional guidelines and regulations governing poll observation.
On security, he said they should see their task as “an opportunity for the display of solidarity with our Malian brothers and sisters,” for the deepening of democracy and good governance in the country and the region.
Ambassador Cheaka and the ECOWAS Director for Political Affairs, Dr. Abdel-Fatau Musah provided the observers with the historical and political background of the Malian crises and outlined ECOWAS’ proactive involvements in the resolution of the conflict.
The observers were also given security briefing ahead of their deployment.
Meanwhile, ahead of Sunday’s poll, Prof. Sawyer is expected to meet with heads of other observation missions and Malian political stakeholders including the General Delegate to the Election and the National Electoral Commission as well as MINUSMA officials.
On Election Day, he is expected to visit some of the 20,000 polling centres to observe the electoral process as more than 6.5 million registered voters from Mali’s estimated 16.5 million population cast their ballots.
The country’s electoral code provides for a second round of voting to be decided by a majority vote in a situation where no independent candidate or list of coalition candidates scored the mandatory 50% plus one vote in the first round.