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British High Commission promotes democratic elections in Southern Africa

High Commission supports a training session for SADC member states electoral commission.

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The British High Commission through the Human Rights and Democracy Fund, supported a training session for SADC member states electoral commission. The session is part of a “Capacity Building” project to help all SADC member states’ electoral commissions identify those factors that can lead to electoral crises and institutionalise best practice. The project is run in partnership with ERIS and the Electoral Commission Forum of the Southern African Development Community (ECF-SADC), based in Botswana.

The project consisted of three activities. The first was a field study to identify factors and best practices in 3 SADC countries; Malawi, Madagascar and Swaziland and 3 non SADC countries; Ghana, Kenya and Sierra Leone. All of these countries have had elections recently. Peer learning is central to this project to transfer knowledge from those countries where elections have proceeded smoothly.

The second activity gathered members of all six electoral commissions included in the first activity to identify those factors that could lead to dispute and also best practice. At this event, the newly created commission from Madagascar was able to secure the extra funding needed for the elections of December 2013 from SADC – providing payment for extra staff and the costs of transporting ballot boxes and papers on a mountainous island with few tarred roads during the rainy season.

The final activity, the current training session, will provide all 15 SADC electoral commissions with tools and methods to implement the best practice identified in the earlier sessions. By the end of the project, close to 50 key members from 15 Africa electoral commissions will have been trained and equipped to prevent potential electoral crises.

Deputy High Commissioner Oliver Richards said; “The training is an opportunity to promote and deepen democracy in the region. It comes at a time when five countries in the region will be going to the polls this year. It is therefore fitting to take stock and bring representatives together to learn from each other’s experiences and discuss the way forward.”

Published 19 March 2014