The top UN official in West Africa Mohamed Ibn Chambas told the Security Council on Monday that elections are one-time events, democracy is a constant process of deliberation and consultation.
Against the backdrop of five presidential, three legislative and two local elections in the region which have taken place in recent months, the Special Representative and Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) told the Council that electoral management bodies have "demonstrated impressive technical capacity to organize and conduct elections."
In presenting the latest report on West Africa and the Sahel from the Secretary-General, the UN envoy highlighted the presidential election in Burkina Faso, saying that "dialogue between political actors led to a unanimously accepted outcome, with the losing contenders congratulating President Roch Marc Christian Kabore for his second term and committing to work together to tackle insecurity."
In Ghana, Chambas said that elections were nonviolent overall and commended the peaceful poll in Niger on November 27, which will "usher in the country's first-ever democratic transition from one elected head of state to another."
The special representative cited ongoing efforts in the Gambia to promote dialogue among political parties toward constitutional reform and lauded discussions in Cote d'Ivoire to rebuild national cohesion despite electoral turmoil.
Throughout, he told the Council that "UNOWAS worked hand-in-hand" with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union and other international partners.
After 20 years in Guinea-Bissau, Chambas said the December 31 closing of the UN field mission there, called UNIOGBIS, marked "an auspicious moment" for the country.
Against the backdrop of a year of multiple challenges triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, Chambas noted that most countries of the region had been plunged into recession and resources had been diverted from productive investments and the fight against insecurity.
While vaccines are being distributed as the region faces a second wave, he said that "it is ever more important that we collaborate to apply the manifold lessons learnt in terms of improving governance and delivering essential services for societies to emerge more adept, secure, and resilient."
Besides the challenges, he commended ECOWAS and its member states, for their overall handling of the pandemic.