MAMADOU Salif Kébé, President of Guinea’s Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante, CENI, has died from coronavirus infection.
Kebe was said to have contracted the illness from a visiting team member of an African civil society electoral experts, who were in Guinea for the country’s March 22, national referendum and legislative elections. He was hospitalised for a few days and died in Conakry on Friday, April 17.
Seven of the visitors, who are still stranded in Conakry because of the global Coronavirus pandemic shutdown, are reported to have also tested positive for COVID-19.
Guinea’s President Alpha Conde has paid tribute to the late Kébé and offered his condolences to his family.
Similarly, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, chair of Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission and the immediate-past President of the governing board of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions, ECONEC, described Kébé’s passing as most unfortunate and a great loss to Guinea and West Africa. Prof Yakubu, an Honorary President of ECONEC, visited Guinea with an ECONEC delegation in June 2018 and held consultations with the CENI officials led by Kébé and other stakeholders, as part of efforts to strengthen cooperation and mutual support among the regional electoral bodies.
Francis Oke, head of the ECOWAS Electoral Assistance Division and Permanent Secretary of ECONEC, has also commended the late Kébé for his leadership of the Guinea’s electoral body.
Kébé, a lawyer, assumed the CENI leadership in 2017, and performed his last public function early this month when he announced the results of the controversial referendum and legislative polls, which were boycotted by opposition parties in the country, after accusing President Conde of using the votes to further his plans for tenure elongation.
ECOWAS and other International organisations did not send observers to the elections and as expected, the results favoured Conde’s ruling party, resulting in the festering political tension in the country, which has reported more than 400 cases of COVID-19 with some five deaths.