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ECOWAS deploys largest contingent of observers for 6 march 2016 presidential election in Benin
 ECOWAS Mission leader Kabiné Komara and on his left Commissioner for peace and security, hadjia Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, officers MM. Augustin Sagna  and Oké  FrancisThe Head of the short-term ECOWAS Observer Mission for the 2016 presidential election in Benin, Guinea’s former Prime Minister Kabiné Komara welcomed the quality and number of observers deployed by the regional organisation for the election.

Speaking on Thursday 3 March 2016 in Cotonou, at the briefing of observers, Kabiné Komara commended their vast experience in election observation and their overwhelming presence in Benin.

«W’e are very delighted that you are here to monitor this election. What is more, ECOWAS is the only institution that fielded the largest number of observers, i.e. 136 in total. This is a clear demonstration of the institution’s commitment to the region», he stated.

He emphasized that Benin was a special case because it was a model country in the region in terms of democratic change. He, therefore, called on the observers to live up to the trust placed in them by ECOWAS.

«This trust and confidence can be tested in two ways: first, the integrity with which you carry out this task. You should bear in mind that Benin is a country with an extremely active civil society. Second, solidarity in your work. You should help each other on the ground», said Kabiné Komara.

He urged them to adhere to the principles of election observation in accordance with the laws of Benin and the Code of Conduct of ECOWAS observers.

In fulfilling his mandate, the Head of the Observer Mission was supported by a technical team from the ECOWAS Commission comprising the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman.

She commended the exemplary nature of Benin in democratic stability on the African continent and noted that since the beginning of democratic governance in the early 1990s, Benin successfully organised five consecutive democratic elections despite the many challenges it encountered.

Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman stated that «On 6 March 2016, the presidential election in Benin will mark the beginning of a new phase in the country’s efforts towards consolidating democratic values. The large number of candidates, thirty-three in all, is a clear indication that the contest is open to all.»

She recognized the challenges that Benin election officials faced in organising these elections and stressed that the first of these challenges was the printing and distribution of voter identity cards.

«This situation compelled the Constitutional Court to postpone the election and change the initial date. Since then, significant progress has been made towards addressing these problems», concluded the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political  Affairs, Peace and Security.

It is worth noting that ECOWAS deployed one hundred and thirty-six (136) observers including 120 short-term and 16 long-term observers to observe and monitor all the pre-electoral, electoral and post-electoral operations and comment on the outcome of the elections. The observation will be on the regularity, transparency, fairness and smooth conduct of the elections.

Thirty-three (33) candidates are contesting in the double ballot, with the first round initially scheduled for 28 February 2016, postponed to Sunday 6 March 2016, due to the delay in production and distribution of voter identity cards. One of these candidates will take over from the current Head of State Thomas Boni Yayi, whose second and last tenure will come to an end on 6 April 2016.

4 746 348 voters spread across 13 664 voting centres and 7 964 polling stations will cast their ballot on Sunday 6 March 2016 to elect the next occupant of the Palais de la Marina for the next five years.

The 546 districts of the country will serve as collation centres for voting which will commence at 7 am and close at 16 pm, representing 9 hours of voting.


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