The holding of transparent and peaceful electoral processes is a recurring issue in the African continent and, specifically in the Central African sub region. Important elections are currently underway or in preparation in several member states of the CEMAC (Economic Community if Central African States) in 2011 and 2012 (Cameroon, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, etc.), and this, in sometimes challenging political contexts. Following the creation of an Electoral Unit within the CEMAC in 2005, the Peace and Security Council of Central Africa (COPAX) has requested in 2008 that in the sub-region be put in place a “strategy fostering free, transparent, democratic and peaceful elections”.
In April 2010 in Kinshasa, heads of central African electoral management bodies expressed the desire to organize themselves in a sub-regional network to exchange experiences and to work together to build the capacities of members of central African EMBs. It is in this context that the Economic Community of Central African States (CEMAC) in collaboration with the National Autonomous and Permanent Electoral Commission of Gabon (CENAP) and, in partnership with the European Union (Peace and Security Support Project – PAPS), held a 4-day BRIDGE training from May 10 through May 14, 2011 in Libreville, Gabon. The training touched on electoral observation and electoral dispute resolution. Among the participants were representatives from electoral management bodies (EMBs) and from CEMAC member states; representatives from central African civil society as well as board members of the EFEAC (Central African School of Electoral Administration).
In preparation for the training, various translation activities were conducted by BRIDGE facilitators. These touched on the Observation and Electoral Dispute Resolution modules and participants’ notes which were fully translated into French.
Although the core language of this training was French, simultaneous interpretation was provided in Spanish and Portuguese for five participants. This was the very first time interpretation was being used in BRIDGE. This singular experience saw very much success and is encouraged in regions featuring multiple official languages.
This training was also a venue for the official launching of the Electoral Knowledge Network in Central Africa (RESEAC – Réseau du Savoir Electoral en Afrique Centrale), which will allow state members of the CEMAC to further implement the BRIDGE project in central Africa and to provide electoral technical assistance by peers in order to mitigate electoral conflicts in the sub region.
Facilitators for this training were:
The training received extremely positive feedback from the participants and will be the second of a series of capacity building workshops, which will be held in central Africa in 2011 and 2012.