Preliminary Declaration Mali Run-off Legislative Polls.
BAMAKO, Mali, December 17, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — PRELIMINARY DECLARATION
1. Following the first round of legislative elections on 24 November 2013 in Mali that produced only 20 Deputies, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Kadré Désiré OUEDRAOGO, deployed a 50-Member Election Observation Mission (EOM) to the 15 December 2013 run-off legislative elections expected to return 127 Deputies to the country’s 147-Member National Assembly. The EOM was once more led by His Excellency Professor Amos SAWYER, former President of the Interim Government of National Unity of the Republic of Liberia, and supported by the ECOWAS Electoral Technical Team.
2. On arrival in Bamako on 13 December, the Head of Mission was briefed by the Special Representative of the President of the ECOWAS Commission on the political and security situation in Mali. He also held a meeting with other Observer Missions, including the OIF, to exchange ideas on the exercise before them.
3. ECOWAS Observers started arriving on 11 December 2013 and following a briefing and orientation Session on 14 December, they were deployed to the Regions of Koulikoro, Segou and Sikasso, as well as the Bamako Communes.
II. ELECTORAL CONTEXT
4. In-between the two rounds, ECOWAS continued to monitor the situation in the country through its Early Warning Mechanism and the Office of the Special Representative in Bamako. During this period, the security situation has remained calm but fragile in the south but quite volatile in the north, amidst growing terrorist attacks in the northern regions of Timbuktu and Kidal. Nevertheless, the combined efforts of the Mali Defence and Security Forces (MDSF), MINUSMA, and the French Forces have stabilized the situation to an extent. On the political front, a fledging dialogue process and commitment of major political stakeholders to the conclusion of the transition to democracy have contributed to confidence-building.
5. The ECOWAS EOM took particular note of measures by the electoral management institutions to address some of the administrative shortcomings noticed in the first round of the polls, including the following:
a) Continued sensitization of voters on the election procedures;
b) Early display of Voters Lists at several polling stations across the country.
III. ELECTION DAY: OPENING, VOTING AND CLOSING OF THE POLLS
6. The opening of polls within 5 minutes of the official time of 08.00hrs,helped by the early availability of sufficient quantities of electoral materials, as well as the presence of election officials, polling agents, representatives of the candidates/political parties, and monitors from the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) and in some cases, the Constitutional Court;
7. The problem of low voters turnout persisted due to a combination of factors, such as voter apathy, disenfranchisement of a considerable number of newly eligible voters and security concerns in parts of the north.
8. The atmosphere on Election Day, particularly the voting process and the conduct of the electoral agents showed that best practices and improvements were maintained, compared to the first round. This manifested in the following:
a) Prior to the commencement of voting, all materials were in place and personnel had positioned themselves for the exercise;
b) The effective but non-obstructive presence of security agents in all the polling centres visited. This is in addition to the presence of a number of local and international observers;
c) The high level of professionalism displayed by the election officials with regard to the discharge of their assignment, especially in guaranteeing the secrecy of the ballot;
d) The smooth and transparent conduct of the tallying and recording in accordance with Malian law and international standards.
9. In spite of the above, some incidents were noticed during the process in Communes 2 and 3 in Bamako.
IV.PRELIMINARY CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
10. Based on the reports and observations so far received from ECOWAS field observers, the ECOWAS EOM concludes that the observed incidents did not in any way lower the conduct of the elections below internationally accepted standards. The EOM consequently adjudges the run-off legislative elections of 15 December 2013 to have taken place in acceptable conditions of freedom and transparency.
11. In light of the preceding observations and conclusions, the ECOWASEOM to the second round of the legislative elections in Mali makes the following recommendations:
A. To the Government, Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) and the In-Coming
The ECOWAS EOM wishes to reiterate its earlier recommendation for the rationalization and consolidation of electoral administration in order to enhance coherence and effectiveness;
The EOM restates its recommendation for Electoral Reform aimed at eliminating the provision for a second-round of legislative elections, due to its cost-implication;
B. To the Government, MINUSMA and Operation SERVAL
While condemning the resurgence of terrorist attacks in parts of the north, the ECOWAS EOM urges the allied forces in Mali to intensify efforts in sustaining the war against terrorism in order to enhance stability and comprehensive development in the country.
C. To the Political Parties, Coalitions and Candidates
The Mission urges the parties and independent candidates to ensure that their candidates and supporters adhere strictly to the existing electoral regulations and procedures, and the rule of law, and to resort to only legal means in seeking redress for any grievances resulting from the conduct of the elections.
D. To the International Community
With the imminent conclusion of the electoral process, the EOM calls on the international community to live up to its commitment of providing resources and facilities for the much needed post-conflict peace-building and reconstruction efforts in Mali, to enhance the full recovery and stability of Mali.
12. The EOM congratulates the people of Mali on the imminent successful conclusion of the political transition and urges them to sustain and deepen the on-going democratic process.
13. The ECOWAS EOM congratulates the President of the Republic of Mali, H.E Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, his Government and the Electoral Organs for their tenacity in concluding the legislative elections. It further enjoins the Government to brace up for the task of achieving cohesion in the country. In this case, the reconciliation process put in place by the Government should be strengthened.
14. The ECOWAS EOM expresses profound gratitude to the Mediator, H.E Blaise Compaoré and the Associate Mediator, H.E Goodluck Jonathan, for facilitating the constructive dialogue which heralded the political transitional process.
Done at Bamako this 16th Day of December, 2013
The Head of the ECOWAS Observation Mission
Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)