EISA undertook extensive consultations with the various political parties who initially participated in the communal elections held in May, agreeing on and identifying appropriate participants to attend "train the trainer" workshops. EISA trained 62 party agent trainers equipping them with knowledge and skills to train their own party poll-watchers. These trainers in turn trained 391 party poll-watchers.
Following the communal elections a further 113 party agent trainers were trained in early July with those parties contesting the legislative, presidential and senate elections. This training focussed mainly on the voting and counting processes and the role and responsibilities of party poll-watchers. The training built on the lessons learnt in the communal elections and focussed on clearly defining the duties of party poll-watchers highlighting the distinction between the responsibilities of electoral staff and party poll-watchers. EISA printed 15,000 flyers in local languages to assist these trainers in training their respective agents. A partner organisation printed other copies. These flyers were also displayed at the voting stations.
EISA believed that the engagement of party poll-watchers during all phases of the process contributes to the stability of the process. The Burundi office was aware of the sensitivity of working with political parties and the need to create a level of trust in EISA and provide a platform for competing parties to engage with each other.
EISA Burundi made contact with all 35 legal parties engaged in the political arena prior to the workshop. These contacts were needed to make sure the protagonists of the Burundian politics became familiar with EISA and felt comfortable to approach EISA for support in building their capacity to play a meaningful role in the process. With a few exceptions, EISA Burundi met the political parties at the highest level. For instance, the present ruling party, CNDD-FDD, arranged for EISA Burundi to meet its former chairman, the now elected President Pierre Nkurunziza.
During the meetings with political parties EISA Burundi explained the background to its establishment in Burundi and the aims, objectives and activities of the project. EISA Burundi met with a favourable response from parties receiving requests for long-term support beyond that of the elections. Some leaders suggested that the planned training should include not only members of the political parties but also the leaders.
On the eve of the elections, EISA head office assisted in designing training materials for party poll-watchers which were translated into French. A total of 34 party poll-watchers participated in the TOT session.