Mr Mike Igini, a Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, has said the job of an election umpire is becoming a risky one in many African countries. Igini said this in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, at a sensitisation workshop tagged “Towards credible and peaceful election,” organised by the Malawi Electoral Commission ahead of the country’s May 21 general elections.
He, however, said electoral umpires must be courageous and firm in the conduct of elections in order to build sustainable democracies on the continent. On Monday, Igini, who is the REC of Akwa Ibom State, advised the Malawi Electoral Commission, in a statement made available to journalists to resist the urge to compromise or surrender the core values of independence, transparency, impartiality and integrity that underpin the expectations of credible elections.
He said, “I commend the electoral management body for its arduous task of preparing Malawians for the forthcoming elections and also encourage the commission to resist the urge to compromise or surrender the core values of independence, transparency, impartiality and integrity that underpin the expectations of credible elections. “The job of an umpire is becoming a very difficult task, if not a risky one, in many African countries.
“But if we must have an acceptable and peaceful electoral outcome that reflects the intent and will of the people, we must show the courage of conviction to be firm and true to the core values of free, fair and credible elections as ideals and as a common mission in order to build a sustainable democracy.”
The REC also berated many elected African leaders that had turned themselves to monarchs, adding that it was not the best way to go. “But democracy offers citizens the right to choose leaders and hold them accountable, which is the greatest promise of empowerment, however, most leaders in African countries elected by the people to positions of authority to exercise power on their behalf behave like monarchs, holding them accountable is not very easy without a strong resolve and this often leads to instability,” he added.