AU urges member states to ensure safe polls

The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) has called on member states to ensure safe situations while holding elections amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

In its latest meeting, the Council dwelt upon the elections held across Africa during the period from July to December 2020 and those to take place during the first quarter of 2021, Xinhua news agency quoted an AU statement issued on Tuesday as saying.

Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Niger, Tanzania and Uganda held elections during the period from July to December 2020, while Congo, Cote d’Ivoire and Somalia will vote during the first quarter of this year.

The Council has reiterated the critical importance for AU member states which decide to proceed with the organisation of elections to ensure the safety and security of the population against the pandemic, the statement said.

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases on the continent reached 3,905,936 as of Tuesday noon, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The AU Peace and Security Council urged member states to create conducive conditions that will encourage more women, the youth and persons with disabilities to actively take part in public life and political processes, particularly elections, among others by strictly ensuring quota systems and reducing the fees for enlisting election candidature in line with the different African instruments and frameworks.

The Council has urged the media, both print and electronic, to always contribute positively towards promoting the integrity and credibility of elections and maintenance of peace and stability in the member states, among others, by educating and factually informing the public, as well as to refrain from inflammatory reporting.

It has also called on all AU member states that have not yet done so, to consider to sign, ratify and domesticate the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.