25 senior electoral management experts from 8 countries in central Africa gathered in Kinshasa from March 14-16 to participate in a BRIDGE workshop on electoral dispute resolution (EDR). The training was an initiative of the Congolese National Independent Electoral Commission (DRC-CENI) which has become a leader in promoting regional cooperation between election administrations and in the use of the BRIDGE curriculum.
During the three day course participants gained an overview of the three main elements of electoral justice systems: the prevention of disputes, corrective and punitive resolution mechanisms and alternative dispute resolution systems. Each of the 8 participating EMBs presented an evaluation of the electoral justice system of their country including Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, the DRC, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Sao Tome and Principe. The activity provided for a rich exchange of comparative experiences and a better understanding of the challenges and successes of alternate models in the central African region. Invited speakers included former DRC-CEI President, the Abbé Apollinaire Malu Malu, who presented plans for a future Electoral Knowledge Network for Central Africa (known by its French acronym RESEAC), and Fabio Bargiacchi, Chief Technical Advisor to the UNDP Project in Support of the Electoral Cycles in the PALOP and Timor-Leste, who discussed electoral assistance and the electoral cycle. The CENI was the perfect host to the visiting commissioners, welcoming them with a sociable dinner at a popular local restaurant and sending them off with a ‘cocktail party’ type celebration. Participants gave a strongly positive feedback of the training, commenting both on the pertinence of the topic as well as their favorable impressions of the learning approach which greatly enhanced the exchange of experience.
The DRC-CENI has made important contributions in using BRIDGE as professional capacity development tool in the DRC and for other French-speaking countries especially in sub-Saharan Africa. The CENI hosted BRIDGE’s first-ever French-language module workshop in January 2010 for its staff and has since organized two module workshops for regional EMBs, including a workshop on planning and electoral assistance in April 2010 and the present EDR workshop. The CENI has hosted the ACE Regional Centre since 2007. In December 2010, four DRC-CENI members became semi-accredited facilitators after successfully completing a Train the Facilitator’s course organized by IFES-Burundi. Two of the TTF participants, Eddy Kisile and Musavuli Simanga became fully accredited Workshop Facilitators during the March EDR Workshop, rising to the tremendous challenge of coordinating the regional event in addition to their BRIDGE facilitation duties. Congratulations Musavuli and Eddy!
The training was organized with the financial support of BRIDGE partner, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The workshop was facilitated by Gabrielle Bardall (USA, Expert Facilitator), Corneille Nangaa (DRC, Accrediting), Musavuli Simanga (DRC, semi-accredited) and Eddy Kisile (DRC, semi-accredited).