The chairman of ECOWAS, President John Dramani Mahama, left Accra Monday morning for Nigeria and Togo, to engage with the two countries ahead of their upcoming presidential elections.
A terse message from Presidential Staffer, Stan Dogbe, to the presidential press said President Mahama's trip to Abuja and Lome was part of the ECOWAS chair's engagement with West African countries that would be holding elections this year.
The message did not state the specific meetings Mr Mahama would hold.
But, there were expectations that he would engage the candidates contesting the elections and other stakeholders.
An exceptionally crucial and busy elections year in the sub region in which five countries would go for presidential polls begins this Saturday with Nigeria, to be followed by Togo on April 15.
Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Côte d’Ivoire would have theirs afterward
Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, would have their elections on Saturday, March 28, while Togo go to the polls on April 15.
Presidential elections in many countries in West Africa present a threat to peace and stability.
With this year presenting a crucial test for the sub region as five countries go for elections, ECOWAS under the chairmanship of the Ghanaian president, is determined to do everything to ensure that the polls passed peacefully.
That would help consolidate democracy not only in the countries holding the elections but to the wider extent, the whole West Africa.
On a personal note, the holding of peaceful elections would add to the impressive credentials President Mahama had built so far as chairman of ECOWAS.
President Goodluck Jonathan,contesting on the ticket of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), is facing stiff challenge from former military dictator, General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The presidential elections in Nigeria originally scheduled for February 7, this year, was put off due to some major concerns particularly the security threat posed by the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram in not he northeastern part of that country.
Even as Nigerians wait for the elections, tension had not completely died out as the Nigerian army and forces from some Central Africa continued their offensive against Boko Haram.
Incumbent President Faure Gnassingbé will be seeking a third five-year term on the ticket of the ruling Rally of the Togolese People (RPT).
Earlier attempts by the opposition, through protests and other means, to prevent Mr Gnassingbé from contesting, fizzled out.
He faces competition from Jean-Pierre Fabre of the National Alliance for Change (ANC), and Alberto Olympio of the Party of the Togolese.
Alberto, a graduate of Harvard Business School, is a nephew of former opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio.
Source: Daily Graphic
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