Friday, October 15, 2010
Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for West Africa, visited Niger today as part of a joint mission with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to underline the support of the international community for the country’s transition to constitutional order.
A coup took place in the impoverished Sahelian nation in mid-February when renegade soldiers stormed the presidential palace and deposed Mamadou Tandja, who had been accused by opposition figures and others of anti-democratic practices.
Niger’s head of State, General Salou Djibo, reassured the ECOWAS-UN delegation today that recent developments in the country will not affect the transition or respect of the agreed timeline.
The electoral timetable provides for polls to be held between 31 October and 6 April 2011, beginning with a referendum on the new constitution and culminating with the election of a new president who will be inaugurated on 11 April. Members of the transitional government and the military and security forces will be ineligible to stand.
Last month, Mr. Djibo called on the UN and other international organizations to observe the upcoming elections, stressing the transitional Government’s determination to “guarantee free, fair, transparent and credible elections.”
Addressing the annual high-level General Assembly debate, he noted that “the commitments that we made the day after the events of 18 February 2010, are at an advanced stage of fulfilment and will be held within the agreed timetable, with your support.”
Mr. Djinnit and the joint delegation later travelled to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, where they will meet with President Blaise Compaoré, the ECOWAS mediator for Guinea, to discuss the situation in the country ahead of the second round of the presidential election, set to be held on 24 October.
Yesterday, Mr. Ban spoke with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in his role as head of ECOWAS, which has been assisting the process to ensure that the much-delayed run-off is held as scheduled in Guinea.
The Secretary-General voiced hope that in the remaining days, any outstanding issues would be resolved, according to his spokesman.
He thanked Mr. Jonathan for his direct engagement together with Mr. Compaoré of Burkina Faso to ensure that the poll is held in a peaceful climate.
Guinea’s independent electoral authority earlier cited technical difficulties when it postponed the second round between Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Condé, the two candidates with the highest number of votes in the first round in June.
Mr. Djinnit has warned that further delays could seriously undermine the transition process in Guinea. At least one person died earlier this month following clashes in the capital, Conakry, related to the election tensions, and Guinea has been plagued by misrule, dictatorships and coups since it gained independence in 1958.
The election is the final stage of the interim Government’s efforts to set up a democracy after the forces of Captain Moussa Dadis Camara – who seized power in a coup in 2008 after the death of long-time president Lansana Conté – shot, raped and attacked hundreds of civilian demonstrators attending a rally in Conakry in September 2009, killing at least 150.
(UN Press Release)