Source: Rotary Club of Accra

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, has encouraged African nations to create platforms for dialogue and consensus-building in the event that coronavirus (COVID-19) disrupts already laid down schedules and calenders for elections in some countries on the continent.

A number of African countries including Ghana are scheduled to go the polls.

But with the coronavirus pandemic raging on across the continent, fears are that some nations may have to postpone their elections.

While in some countries like Cote d’Ivoire it is clear that in the event that election cannot be held for power to be handed over to an elected president, the incumbent could remain in power until such time when there is an elected official, in other nations it is a matter of judicial interpretations, with Dr. Chambas saying the Supreme Court would be in a better position to make a case for Ghana when election cannot be held this year.

Dr. Chambas made this known while addressing the Rotary Club of Accra, Airport on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Africa and the world at large.

Responding to a question on what should be the ideal mode of filling a likely ‘power vacuum’ to be created if elections cannot be held as planned and the tenure of incumbents expire, Dr Chambas in the virtual address strongly advocated for dialogues.

He said the issue of possible elections disruptions have come up for discussion both at the UN and ECOWAS levels.

He revealed that efforts were being made to encourage dialogue and consensus-building among political actors.

On constitutional provisions for power transfer in Africa and how that may play out if elections are not held due to COVID-19, he stated that succession plans are in place in the case of Ghana and the Constitution makes provision for that.

“In the case of Ghana, I think we have to go and look at the various provisions of succession in our constitution which I believe are there. So I will not put myself in the position of Supreme Court and pronounce how that will go.”

“But I think in our jurisdiction also, a succession plan is there in event that election is not held,” he said.

He expressed confidence that Ghana will continue to show leadership in the democratic space in the sub-region even in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

He said considerations should be made in terms of how all stakeholders can work together to ensure that Ghana continues to show leadership in Africa as far as democracy and elections are concerned.

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