Former President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday in Monrovia advised ECOWAS to deploy the use of technology fully in electoral processes to conduct free and fair elections in member states.
Jonathan gave the advice while speaking as one of the panellists at the ongoing First Extra-Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament.
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The Communications Division of the Parliament quoted Jonathan as saying that citizens of the sub-region oftentimes lost confidence in their leaders who they believed to have manipulated the electoral system.
“If full technology is deployed at all stages in the electoral process, elections will be free and fair and completely eliminate the manipulation and rigging of results.
“When technology is deployed across the board, you will find out that people can even vote from the comfort of their homes or in their cars.
“And by so doing, politicians will no longer have the opportunity to engage thugs and criminals to stuff ballot boxes, cause mayhem and disrupt the electoral process.
“If technology is deployed, African presidents who refuse to relinquish power even when they have lost election will find it difficult to manipulate the process.
“This is more so because it will be the prerogative of the people to choose to vote them out or allow them to continue in power,’’ he said.
The ex-president also briefed the parliament and participants on the outcomes of ECOWAS-backed mediation intervention in Mali, which he led.
He said that in spite of the mediation efforts of his team to find a lasting solution to the political crisis, the military junta in Mali was still proving stubborn.
According to him, the junta’s stubbornness is the reason for the continuous sanctions imposed on Mali by the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Government.
Jonathan noted, however, that negotiations were still ongoing, and expressed optimism that there would be a lasting solution in the near future.
He also blamed the political class for the upheavals and current challenges bedevilling the sub-region.
Jonathan charged ECOWAS leaders to strive to meet up with the primary responsibility of setting up the sub-regional body for economic integration and development. (NAN)