The West African Network for Peace-Building (WANEP), in collaboration with the directorate of early warning and the facilitation of mediation by the Economic Community of African States (ECOWAS), as well as the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), launched a regional project to monitor and analyze electoral violence in West Africa on Thursday.
The launch was graced by Dr Onyinye Nkechi Onwuka, acting director of the directorate Ecowas Early Warning; Moudjib Djinabou, chief business officer of Unowas Policies; Giovanni Squadrito, regional team leader for West Africa and Lake Chad, representing the European Union; and Ms Levinia Addaemensah, deputy executive director of WANEP.
The €4 million project ‘Monitoring, Analysis, and Electoral Violence Mitigation (EMAM), which will cover a period of 36 months, is funded by the European Union through its NDICI-FPI, Peace, Stability, and Conflict Prevention. It covers 11 countries in Africa, with the possibility of extension to other complementary countries.
The Goal E-MAM’s central objective is to contribute to the reduction of electoral violence by strengthening and mobilising the regional and national capacities needed for the prevention or mitigating of political violence. Its main objective is to facilitate and strengthen the process of implementing early warning while promoting responses to electoral violence and other threats to democracy in targeted countries.
The partners, united in this major project, aspire to collaborate with the governments, Election Management Bodies (EMBs), Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs), Civil Society (CSOs), personalities, and opinion leaders, as well as West African citizens, to help improve human security in the region.
The project also reflects the shared commitment of Wanep and its partners to peace, stability, and democratic strengthening in West Africa.
In her launching statement, Ms Levinia Addae-Mensah, Deputy Executive Director of Wanep, said the foundations of the project date back to the first years of operations in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the wave of democratisation that had engulfed the West African region has increasingly been accompanied by cycles of violence, with serious consequences for communities throughout the region.
“Over the years, election-related violence in our region has undermined the process and has been identified as a key factor in the recent wave of coups d’état in the region. In addition, violence related to elections has fractured communities and eroded confidence in institutions, causing significant destruction of infrastructure and loss of life,” she added.
A representative from the Ecowas Early Warning Directorate said that despite efforts to work towards a peaceful, stable, and prosperous region, Africa’s young democracy and enviable peace and stability in West Africa have recently been afflicted by governance and security challenges, resulting in some cases in violent elections, democratic reversals, and the growing threats of terrorism, among others.
“With a collective determination and unity of purpose among the different national, regional, and international stakeholders to confront these challenges as exemplified by the Electoral Violence Monitoring Analysis and Mitigation Project, we can boldly say that there is still hope for a brighter future, as we all put our hands and efforts together to build a stable democracy in our region.”