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Nigeria heads new board of ECOWAS election management network
Prof Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chair and new ECONEC Board President

Abuja, 30th March 2017 . The Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has been elected President of the new five-member Board of the 15-nation ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) for the next two years.

The new board is assuming responsibility from the outgoing one headed by Mali’s Gen. SiakaSangare. The President of ECONEC’s pioneer board, Burkina Faso’s Michel Tapsoba, was succeeded by Sierra Leone’s Christiana Thope (2012-2015), before Sangare took over the reins.

In a poll held during ECONEC’s 5th biennial General Assembly meeting in Cotonou, Benin Republic on the 29th of March, 2017, the Chair of Benin Republic’s Electoral Commission Mr. Emmanuel Tiando also emerged 1st Vice President. His Guinea-Bissau counterpart, Mr. Jose Pedro Sambu, was elected 2nd Vice President, while Mr. Newton Barry of Burkina Faso clinched the position of ECONEC Treasurer, just as Ms Maria do Rosario Goncalves from Cabo Verde was elected deputy Treasurer.

Speaking after his election, Prof Yakubu thanked his colleagues for their support and pledged his and INEC’s commitment to reposition ECONEC, in the ECOWAS spirit of solidarity and cooperation among the Network member States.

While handing over the mantle of leadership, Gen. Sangare, who had headed ECONEC in an acting capacity, thanked ECOWAS and development partners, especially the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) for their invaluable support.

He underlined financial constraint as the Network’s major challenge and called for measures to address the problem in order to make the institution effective and efficient, and its activities sustainable.

The workshop produced a Cotonou Declaration on the improvement of electoral processes and entrenchment of democracy in West Africa, at the behest of the ECOWAS Commission’s President H.E. Marcel de Souza, who officially opened the Conference.

In accordance with its constitutive statute, ECONEC’s headquarters is hosted by the ECOWAS Electoral Assistance Division (EAD), within the Department of Political Affairs Peace and Security in Abuja, whose Head, Mr. Francis Oke, is its Executive Secretary.

ECONEC was set up in 2008 to foster cooperation and experience sharing among member States and to support ECOWAS in the realisation of its mandate of regional integration and the promotion of electoral processes with integrity for the deepening of democracy in the region.

The election of the new board, observed by the ECOWAS Commissioner of Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs. Halima Ahmed, was on the margins of the just-ended International Workshop on A Decade of ECOWAS Electoral Assistance and Promotion of Democracy in West Africa: Lessons Learned and Challenges, which was attended by ECOWAS Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs).

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