A five-day series of workshops designed to help African election professionals keep pace with best practice has concluded in Ghana.
With an overall theme of 'Delivering Credible and Inclusive Elections in the Era of COVID-19: Building public trust and confidence throughout the electoral cycle’, participants said the training would improve the way they undertake and manage elections in their home countries.
The event was attended by election professionals from across the Commonwealth, including Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Momoh Mohammed Kaneneh of the Sierra Leonian National Electoral Commission thanked the Commonwealth for uniting everyone in Accra. He said: “Over the course of these five days, we have listened to experts in various fields talk to us about managing elections in our countries. We spoke about gender and inclusion, media, and public information as well as the implications of conducting elections in a pandemic like we have currently. This event will contribute to the safeguarding of democracies across the Commonwealth.”
Saida Hilal of the Tanzanian National Electoral Commission said she will cherish the opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences: “We all have a common interest in undertaking credible elections in our countries,” she said. “So, we were able to exchange experiences and from the training, I had an opportunity to learn good practices and compare and weigh the way we undertake our elections and the ways other EMBs are undertaking theirs. This will help me improve the management of elections in my country.”
The training event was co-hosted by the Election Commission of Ghana and is the latest in a series of regional training sessions held by the CEP Initiative - a project funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Lindiwe Maleleka, Commonwealth Political Officer, said that it is important that electoral officials continue to meet to discuss the issues of managing elections even as the world battles COVID-19. She added: “The ongoing pandemic has multiple facets and presents unprecedented challenges affecting every aspect of our lives. It is, of course, not only a public health emergency but also an economic, social, and environmental crisis. It poses a serious risk to our democratic culture, practices and processes as countries across and beyond the Commonwealth grapple with the need to protect rights and freedoms of citizens without endangering their health and safety”.
The next CEP workshop will be for Election Management Bodies in Commonwealth countries in Asia in 2022.