Keep Obasanjo away from elections – Civil society groups write ECOWAS
by Hauwa Gambo
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo manages to ruffle feathers anywhere he goes – and civil society groups across the West African region are not impressed.
In ano open letter to the president of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Mission, the o axe the former President from subsequent assignments.
In an open letter to the President of the ECOWAS Commission, the West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF)has asked that he be excluded from election monitoring in the future.
According to the forum, it is concerned by the “utterances, positions, recommendations and past records of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria while on Elections Observation duty in several countries across the West African region.”
It recollected that his conduct during the 2005 elections in Togo led to attacks on ECOWAS monitors, and that his recommendation, while he was leading another ECOWAS mission, for a two-year tenure elongation for former Senegalese President, Abdoulaye Wade, was “unconstitutional and undemocratic”.
Ghana was, apparently, the last straw. According to them, Obasanjo – who led both the ECOWAS and África Union (AU) missions – “unilaterally smuggled a repressive and undemocratic anti-freedom of information recommendation into the preliminary declaration, and openly canvass for the strict regulation of press freedom during the ECOWAS/AU press briefing.” Obasanjo had also asked that the “excesses” of the media in election reporting be “curtailed”.
The groups worry that he rubbishes the need for objectivity during election monitoring, and even lacks the moral authority to lead.
“We wish to recall that President Obasanjo conducted what was widely described as the most undemocratic elections in the history of his country, Nigeria,” they said. ” The elections of 2003 and 2007 superintended by President Obasanjo brought international opprobrium on the country. This is a fact that has been registered in several quarters on the global scene.”