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Speaker and participants at Commonwealth Election Professionals initiative in Kuala Lumpur

Training to strengthen electoral democracy in Commonwealth Asia begins in Malaysia

25 November 2019

Senior officials from six election management bodies have gathered in Malaysia for a programme aimed at boosting electoral democracy in Commonwealth Asia.

The 19 officials are in Kuala Lumpur for the five-day Commonwealth Election Professionals (CEP) Initiative Asia Region training event co-hosted by the Commonwealth and Election Commission of Malaysia.

The interactive and discussion-based format will provide an opportunity for participants from Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia to share challenges and solutions, and to learn from others’ experiences in a collaborative environment.

Speaking at the opening session, Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun, Chairman of the Election Commission of Malaysia, said that the only way to achieve voter confidence in electoral outcomes is for “all of us to imbue our respective organisations with credibility, transparency and integrity”.

He continued: “I fervently hope this training programme will be of benefit to all of us, that it will provide a platform for all of us to exchange ideas, share our experiences, as well as create fruitful discourse on best practices for our mutual benefits.”

Yvonne Apea Mensah, Adviser and Head of Africa at the Commonwealth, told delegates: “The Commonwealth Election Professionals Initiative was developed to strengthen the institutional capacity of all Commonwealth election management bodies.

“It is my hope that not only will you be able to share ideas and insights, but that you will also keep the professional contacts and connections that you will make this week alive as you advance the important work that you all do.

“These are the bonds that define the Commonwealth family, and this is what we call the Commonwealth Advantage.”

The workshop 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, since 2017.

In that time, 70 electoral administrators from 37 Commonwealth election management bodies have participated in one of four workshops, which are tailored to meet regional priorities and challenges.

Two-thirds of participants have reported that their EMBs are already making improvements as a result of recommendations arising from their CEP experience.