August 5th 2021, Lomé, Togo - Recognizing how central inclusive elections are to democracy in ECOWAS Member States, the ECOWAS Electoral Affairs Division (EAD) is conducting a modular training on inclusive electoral processes. The training is supported by GIZ, through the ECOWAS Peace and Security Architecture and Operations (EPSAO) Project, co-financed by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ). The training is taking place in Lomé, Togo from 2nd – 6th August 2021. Facilitated by the Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE)-accredited facilitators, the modular training aims to enable election administrators and stakeholders to critically examine the concept of inclusive electoral processes in West Africa while exploring new ways to promote the electoral rights of different groups in a democratic state.
Speaking during the opening ceremony, Mr Luther Barou Y.Y, representing the ECOWAS Director of Political Affairs, appreciated the European Union, German Government and all concerned partners for their financial and technical support during the important training. Mr Barou, underscored the significance of this training which is resulting from the recommendations of past electoral processes. He acknowledged the importance of equipping election administrators with the right skills for effective inclusion of all citizens in electoral processes, including marginalized groups, persons with disabilities (PWDs), the elderly, the uneducated, youth and the poor as well as to support member states with inclusion-related challenges faced in their respective electoral processes.” He concluded by thanking the people of Togo, the Electoral Commission and the Government for the warm welcome.
Also speaking at the event, Valerie Arikpo-Ettah, GIZ Electoral Affairs Advisor, stated, “As our region continues to organise several elections in the midst of the pandemic, we observe that the lack of genuine inclusive electoral systems remains a particular challenge especially because the exercise of the right to vote is directly proportional to the level of inclusiveness provided for, within our various electoral systems.” She noted that since the inclusion discourse had broadened in scope, there was now an increasing need for member states to take proactive measures in enabling the electoral participation of women, youth, persons with disabilities,the internally displaced persons (IDPs) and even by citizens in diaspora. This would ensure that the interests of these groups are adequately accommodated in any given election cycle. She further reiterated the commitment of the GIZ EPSAO Project in working with ECOWAS to support the further strengthening of capacities of election administrators to ensure inclusion in electoral processes in alignment with global standards.
The President of the Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante (CENI), Mr Ayassor Tchambakor, while welcoming all participants to Togo, thanked the ECOWAS Commission, the EU and GIZ for choosing his country as the host for this training. Mr. Ayassor emphasized that inclusive elections, which allows all eligible people to vote, are essential to the exercise of democracy and stressed the need for consistent and regular training for election management bodies in the region. He further urged participants to follow with great attention and declared the training open.
By the end of the training, it is anticipated that participants will better understand international and regional standards for ensuring that the rights of diverse groups in the electoral process are guaranteed as well as the potential consequences of not guaranteeing these rights in a democracy. Participants will undertake a series of group exercises to learn practical ways for adapting these standards to their various contexts.