The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission and Head of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA), former President Pierre Buyoya, has reiterated the support of the AU and ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, to the on-going political transition in Mali. President Buyoya was speaking in Bamako, on 09 May 2013, during visits to Mali’s General Delegation for Elections (DGE) and Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).
The Special Representative and the electoral officials discussed preparations for Mali’s upcoming polls, scheduled to begin with presidential elections in July 2013. Issues discussed during the meetings included: AFISMA’s critical role in support of efforts by the Malian authorities to provide security before, during and after the elections; measures currently underway to ensure that displaced Malians within the country and in neighboring states are offered the opportunity to freely and fully exercise their right to vote; the relationship between Mali’s electoral bodies and other political stakeholders, especially the Government, Political Parties and Civil Society; and the need for enhanced voter education and mobilization, with a view to increasing Malians’ trust in their country’s political system and raising voter turnout to bolster the credibility of the elections.
“Free, fair and transparent elections are an essential component of the solution to Mali’s multifaceted crisis. In that regard, the AU and ECOWAS will do everything possible to help Mali organize credible elections, within the timeframe set by the Malian Government and Parliament. Our assistance will include financial and capacity support, as well as Good Offices and the deployment of Election Observers,” he stated.
At the Independent National Electoral Commission, President Buyoya was received by all 15 members of the Commission which includes 10 representatives of Political Parties (including the opposition party), and 5 representatives of Civil Society (including religious organizations, the Bar Association and the Malian Association of Magistrates). All geographical regions of Mali (including Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu) are represented in the Commission.