Citizen observation by civil society organisations (CSOs) play a vital part in preventing fraud, building public trust in the electoral process through an independent and non-partisan stance that ensures that the outcome of the election is acceptable to all stakeholders.
May & Nov 2009
Between May and November 2009, EISA's Elections and Political Processes, as part of it's support for civil society electoral initiatives, held two workshops for CSOs. The first two workshops were conducted by EISA, as a member of a joint partnership between International IDEA and other partners of the Network for Enhanced Electoral and Democratic Support (NEEDS) III project. The project is aimed at training domestic observer groups from selected countries which are beneficiaries of the European Union (EU) electoral assistance.
The training focused on consolidating election observation methodology in line with international and regional standards and to improve domestic observers' capabilities through the development of a common approach in the recruitment and training of observers. The first training took place in May 2009 in Randburg, South Africa, and was conducted for representatives of CSOs involved in citizen observation in their respective countries from Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe, Algeria, Botswana, Cameroon, Chad, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia. The second training was held in Dakar, Senegal, in November 2009 and was conducted for 23 representatives of CSOs from Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Republic), Côte d'Ivoire, DRC, Gabon, Madagascar, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
EISA;s Elections and Political Processes, as part of it's support for civil society electoral initiatives, held a training workshop on election observation for representatives of CSOs from Africa. Participants were drawn from Burundi, Algeria, Botswana, Cameroon, Chad, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia. The objective of the workshop was to ensure that African CSOs gradually develop a common approach in election observation as well as to ensure that electoral observation in Africa has a real impact on the democratic development agenda.
The workshop took place in August 2009 in Johannesburg, South Africa. By the end of the training, participants indicated that they had gained a comprehensive understanding and appreciation of the value of EISA's election observation methodology.
In preparation for the elections, CENI facilitated a meeting with a wide range of partners, including UNDP, ONUB, EISA-Burundi, COSOME, and CNCA to discuss the question of citizen observation. UNDP, UNOPS, ONUB and EISA-Burundi were tasked with preparing a plan of action for citizen observers. The material designed for training observers for the Referendum was used, in a condensed version with an additional module on democracy.
EISA-Burundi trained 130 observers as trainers who in turn trained additional trainers. A total of 1130 citizen observers were placed in the field for these elections drawn from COSOME, CNCA, CIVIC and Ligue Izere members.
EISA-Burundi held discussions with several civil society organisations regarding the role that citizen observers play in the electoral process. The response from local organisations reinforced the need for a citizen observation initiative and EISA-Burundi and COSOME were tasked with the responsibility of putting in place such an initiative.
Shortly after the arrival of the EISA-Burundi, plans were made in regard to putting in place a citizen observation mission for the February 28 constitutional referendum. With the support from EISA head office, COSOME was supported in developing an observation strategy, including the recruitment, training and deployment of observers.
EISA head office assisted with the design and development of an observation manual and report forms in consultation with COSOME. The material was translated into French.
Participants were also exposed to the Principles for Election Management, Monitoring and Observation (PEMMO) as a yardstick by which to assess the free and fairness of the elections.